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Pirates off to fast start in win over D-backs

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- It was not exactly a big game, but it was something to build on.

Pittsburgh had its season-high run total in a 5-3 victory over Arizona on Monday, three fewer runs that it had scored in its first six games. The Pirates started things off with a three-run first inning, its biggest inning of the season.

"It's good, man. We're a ball club that's capable of doing that. Once we get going, we'll get going. We got on the board early, we fizzled out a little bit, then we got an extra run. We're still capable of doing more, but this is a good start," outfielder Andrew McCutchen said.

McCutchen doubled in a run in a three-run first inning and added a sacrifice fly in the fifth before Garrett Jones hit a bases-empty home run in the eighth, only the Pirates' second home run of the season.

The Pirates (2-5), who had been shut out twice this season, entered the Arizona series with two runs in their last three games, and had scored as many as three runs in a game once.

They jumped on Arizona starter Trevor Cahill for three runs in the first inning. Starling Marte singled to open the game and scored on McCutchen's one-out double. Travis Snider singled in the last two runs after consecutive two-out walks loaded the bases. Marte singled, tripled and scored twice.

"That's the thing we've tried to stress. It doesn't take one of you to carry the team. It takes all of you," said Pirates hitting coach Jay Bell, in his first season on manager Clint Hurdle's staff.

"We really worked our at-bats against Trevor, and that really paid off for us. You know you have a lot of work to do when you come up against a starting staff like this, as well as a terrific bullpen. It's awful encouraging when we can have some at-bats like that."

Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt extended his hitting and RBI streaks to five games apiece with a double in the second inning and a sacrifice fly in the third, and Wil Nieves had two hits and an RBI.

The D-backs (5-2) set a franchise record with 71 hits in their first six games of the season while tying their career-best start, but they did not get a hit after the fourth inning to break a four-game winning streak.

"We can't score five runs every night," said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, whose team scored 37 runs in its first six games.

Pirates emergency reliever Jeanmar Gomez got the victory when starter Wandy Rodriguez was forced out of the game with left hamstring tightness in the third inning, and left-hander Justin Wilson pitched to the minimum nine batters in his three innings of relief as the Pirates (2-5) broke a four-game losing streak.

Wilson hit a batter with one out in the seventh inning but got out of it on a double-play grounder. He has not given up a hit in five innings this season, and his fastball was clocked at 97 mph on the stadium radar gun.

"That's the most velocity I've seen him have and his breaking ball was good," Hurdle said.

Cahill (0-1) gave up four hits and three walks and hit a batter in five innings, throwing 48 of 89 pitches for strikes.

"The whole game I was trying to find my arm slot. I felt like I couldn't command the fastball. The fastball was coming out and I couldn't tell where it was going, so I just aimed middle with some off-speed stuff and was able to get some outs that way," Cahill said.

NOTES: Pittsburgh's Rodriguez has 86 regular-season victories since the beginning of the 2005 season, second among National League left-handers to Philadelphia's Cole Hamels (91). Rodriguez, who joined Pittsburgh at the 2012 trading deadline after spending 7 1/2 seasons in Houston, led NL lefties with 1,388 1/3 innings in that span. ... The D-backs' three-game weekend sweep in Milwaukee was their first there in a series of at least three games. It also was the D-backs' first sweep of their initial road trip of a season. ... Pirates infielder Brandon Inge (right scapula) was 0-for-3 for Class AAA Indianapolis while playing third base Monday after hitting a home run and a single while playing second base in a rehab game at Class AAA Indianapolis on Sunday. Inge is eligible to return from the disabled list Wednesday. ... D-backs catcher Miguel Montero was held out of the starting lineup for the first time this season, with Nieves taking over against lefty Rodriguez. "I think it's being smart," D-backs manager Gibson said.
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