Home Pittsburgh Sports College Football Alvarez bomb lifts Pirates past Rockies

Alvarez bomb lifts Pirates past Rockies

Pedro Alvarez launched a three-run homer in the eighth inning to lift the Pirates past the Rockies 5-4 and on to Chicago for a three-game set with the Cubs.

Even though they clinched their third straight playoff berth Wednesday, the Pirates did not take their foot off the gas Thursday against the Colorado Rockies.

Pittsburgh got things started right away when Jaff Decker drew a leadoff walk from Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis. Andrew McCutcheon singled to put the team in scoring position early. Red hot leftfielder Starling Marte capitalized on the opportunity by hitting a line drive to left field, bringing Decker across the plate to make the score 1-0.

An efficient first and second inning from Pirates starter Jeff Locke gave way to a rocky third. With runners on the corners and two outs, Nolan Arenado, a potential Silver Slugger, smacked a double to left field to plate both and put Colorado up 2-1. Locke struck out Wilin Rosario to escape the the inning.

The Pirates evened things up in the top of the fifth after a Josh Harrison double and a subsequent Decker RBI single. Colorado quickly rebutted, however, by recording a run of their own thanks to a Cristhian Adames triple that brought in Corey Dickerson. The Rockies struck again in the bottom of sixth after Ben Paulsen hit a grounder to score Kyle Parker, making the score 4-2.

That scoring play ended Locke’s day, as the southpaw allowed eight hits, four earned runs and struck out five in 5.2 innings.

Bettis’ outing also ended when Scott Oberg replaced him in the top of the seventh. Bettis allowed seven hits but only two runs in six innings pitched.

After Oberg and Joe Blanton pitched clean seventh innings, the Pirates mounted their comeback against Jairo Diaz in the top of the eighth. Marte — who tied an 89-year old club record with 13 hits in a four-game series, previously held by Hall of Famer Pie Traynor — and Neil Walker got on base, setting up Alvarez for his heroics. The first baseman launched a line drive into the right field seats for his 26th home run of the season, putting the Bucs up 5-4.

Marte went 13-for-19 (.684) with seven RBI in the series.

While they were unable to add any insurance runs in the top of the ninth, the Pirates sent NL saves leader Mark Melancon to the mound to nurture the one-run lead. Melancon made quick work of Dickerson and Adames in eight pitches before going head to head with Arenado.

After working the count full, Arenado struck out on curveball to end the game and earn Melancon his 50th save. The All-Star closer has not allowed a hit in his past nine innings.

With the victory, the Pirates are now 93-60 and on a six-game winning streak heading into another pivotal series against the Chicago Cubs.

Gerrit Cole (17-8, 2.64 ERA) and Jon Lester (10-11, 3.46 ERA) will face off Friday. Cole is 2-1 in September and is 6-1 against the Cubs all time, including 4-1 at Wrigley Field. Oppositely, Lester pitched his only complete game of the season against the Pirates on Sept. 15, allowing only one run.

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