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DENVER -- The Pittsburgh Pirates had a sense of urgency Sunday. They had lost the first two games of their series with the Colorado Rockies by identical 8-1 scores.

And in each loss, the Pirates scored in the ninth to avoid being shut out.

Manager Clint Hurdle used set-up reliever Jared Hughes in the fifth. He took over from starter Edinson Volquez with one out and the bases loaded and got Brandon Barnes to ground into a double play.

Referring to his use of Hughes in the fifth with the Rockies leading 4-2, Hurdle said, "We'd already dropped two. There's a little more urgency to keep the score where it's at and win."

Left-hander Tony Watson, worked the seventh and the eighth, the first time he has pitched two innings this season. Hurdle was able to do that, because Watson had not pitched since Tuesday.

Closer Mark Melancon retired the side in order in the ninth to earn his ninth consecutive save and 19th in 22 chances this season. After the Pirates' 7-5 win, Hurdle said he went into the game knowing he could get nine outs from Watson and Melancon, which freed up Hughes to work earlier if needed in an important matchup against a right-handed hitter.

"It was just fun to watch us play today -- the energy and the effort that we played with after we dropped the first two," Hurdle said.

The win enabled the Pirates to avoid being swept in the three-game series that began their 10-game road trip that includes three games at San Francisco and four at Arizona.

And the victory enabled the third-place Pirates to move within three games of first-place Milwaukee and remain one game behind St. Louis in the National League Central.


RECORD: 55-49

STREAK: Won one

NEXT: Pirates (RHP Vance Worley, 3-1, 3.10 ERA) at Giants (LHP Madison Bumgarner, 12-7, 3.19 ERA)


--RHP Edinson Volquez allowed four runs, two earned, in 4 1/3 innings and did not figure in the decision. It was his fourth start this season without reaching the sixth, the last coming June 18 against Cincinnati when he lasted 2 1/3 innings. Volquez actually lowered his career ERA against the Rockies and at Coors Field. In 14 career starts against the Rockies, Volquez is 3-8 with a 7.56 ERA. In nine career starts at Coors Field, Volquez is 1-5 with an 8.02 ERA.

--OF Travis Snider tied the game at 4 with a two-run, pinch-hit home run in the sixth off Chad Betts. It was Snider's fifth career pinch-hit home run and second this season -- the other was April 10 at the Chicago Cubs. It was also Snider's fourth career game-tying home run and first since June 15, 2013, against Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the ninth.

--OF-3B Josh Harrison went 4-for-6 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored. He matched his career-high in hits. It was his fourth four-hit game and second this year; the other was June 17 against Cincinnati. Harrison broke a 5-5 tie with a homer in the seventh as the Pirates went on to win 7-5. It was his fourth career go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later and third this year. The last was in the second game of a doubleheader May 18 at the New York Yankees.

--3B Pedro Alvarez made his first start since he left the game Tuesday with discomfort in his left knee. Alvarez did enter Friday's game as a pinch hitter in the seventh and stayed in the game and struck out and walked in his two plate appearances. Sunday, Alvarez was removed from the game on a double-switch in the seventh after going 1-for-4. Manager Clint Hurdle said before the game that Alvarez's health was the reason he started, particularly since catcher Russell Martin was rested with a day game after a night game. In the fourth, Alvarez took a few steps to snare a ball hit by Wilin Rosario and threw well wide of first base. It was Alvarez's 21st throwing error and his 23rd error overall this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's easy for me to try to make something happen as opposed to trying to reach back to second because he was right there. And something happened." -- Pirates LF Josh Harrison after oversliding second on a steal only to beat a rundown and advance to third in a 7-5 win at Colorado on Sunday.



--LF Starling Marte (concussion) went on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to July 22. He passed concussion protocols July 21 and was cleared to play but failed the tests July 23. There is no timetable for his return.

--RHP Gerrit Cole (tight right lat) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 5. He threw on flat ground July 13 and 15. He threw off a mound July 16 and 20. He threw 70 pitches in a simulated game July 23.

--INF Clint Barmes (strained left groin) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 30. He began jogging July 23 and is expected to take live practice during the week of July 28-Aug. 3.


RHP Francisco Liriano

RHP Charlie Morton

LHP Jeff Locke

RHP Edinson Volquez

RHP Vance Worley


RHP Mark Melancon (closer)

LHP Tony Watson

RHP Ernesto Frieri

LHP Justin Wilson

RHP Jeanmar Gomez

RHP Jared Hughes

RHP Stolmy Pimentel


Russell Martin

Chris Stewart


1B Ike Davis

2B Neil Walker

SS Jordy Mercer

3B Pedro Alvarez

INF Gaby Sanchez

INF Michael Martinez

INF Brent Morel


LF Josh Harrison

CF Andrew McCutchen

RF Gregory Polanco

OF Travis Snider

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