Home Pittsburgh Sports College Football McCutchen walk-off in 12th lifts Pirates to .500

McCutchen walk-off in 12th lifts Pirates to .500

Andrew McCutchen ripped a walk-off homerun to left field to lead off the bottom of the 12th as the Pirates reached .500 with a 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at PNC Park on Wednesday night

Jose Tabata tied a career high with four hits and Andrew McCutchen hooked a walk-off home run just inside the left field foul pole in the twelfth inning Wednesday night, pulling the Pirates back to .500 with a 3-2 victory over the Diamondbacks at PNC Park.

Both teams left twelve runners on base during the four hour, six minute contest in which long-time teammates Zach Duke and Paul Maholm competed for bragging rights. Maholm didn’t get the win despite pitching six shutout innings after the Bucs’ bullpen let the lead slip away, but rookie Tony Watson and Daniel McCutchen recorded critical outs in extra innings and Andrew McCutchen’s quick wrists evened the Pirates’ record at 30-30.

With the score knotted at two apiece in the twelfth, Andrew McCutchen stepped to the plate to face Arizona’s Zach Kroenke. The lefty tried to paint the outside corner against McCutchen, but he left a slider over the heart of the plate on the seventh pitch of the at-bat that the Bucs’ center fielder pulled inside the left field foul pole, clearing the wall by a few rows of bleachers.

“I hit it off the end [of the bat] a little bit, but I got just enough of it and hooked it down the line,” McCutchen said. Just enough. I got it out. Pretty good.”

“The longer I watched it, the better our chances got,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Then I heard the ‘bing’ and I knew we were in. The ball wasn’t carrying a whole lot tonight – it was hot and humid. It had enough on it.”

Though neither pitcher staked his claim to sole possession of most wins all-time wins at PNC Park — both Duke and Maholm have 31 — the two lefties dueled on Wednesday.

Duke, making his first start at PNC Park against his former club since he was traded to Arizona during the offseason, scattered nine hits in seven innings pitched, allowing one earned run while striking out one and not issuing a walk.

While the Bucs had runners in scoring position against Duke in each of the first four innings, Andrew McCutchen’s sac fly in the bottom of the third was the only run that Pittsburgh could push home versus the former 20th round pick who spent the 2005-2010 seasons with the Pirates.

Maholm blanked Arizona for six innings, giving up just one hit while whiffing four D-Backs and walking three.

“I threw some good sinkers and some good changeups and I threw inside,” Maholm said. “We both pitched well. He [Duke] battled when he had runners on. That’s what you’ve seen from him here for so long. But the outcome was what it should have been,” Maholm said with a grin.

The Pirates still enjoyed a 1-0 advantage heading into the eighth inning. Jose Veras blew the lead, however. Arizona sat its starting middle infielders, but called on both Kelly Johnson and Stephen Drew as pinch-hitters in the inning.

Veras walked Johnson on four pitches. Willie Bloomquist sacrificed Johnson to second in the next at-bat, and Drew then evened the score with an RBI single.

Veras drilled Justin Upton in the back with his next pitch, prompting Hurdle to pull him in favor of Tony Watson. Making his major league debut, Watson struck out both Chris Young and Juan Miranda swinging on 3-2 pitches — a fastball at the knees to Young, and slider off the plate to Miranda.

“It was as good as you could want from a young man,” Hurdle said. “It wasn’t the perfect scenario by any means. I’m actually going against a leverage situation there going with a left-hander against Young. I didn’t want to use Danny [McCutchen] in that situation because I had a hunch that we were going to need him tonight.

“I was playing with live ammo up there. But I gave Tony the ball and wow, did he respond,” Hurdle continued. “His dad is in the stands, his sister is in the stands and they drove all night from Iowa to make the game last night. Yesterday we were joking and during our early workout today I said, ‘you’re putting a lot of pressure on me [to put Watson in the game] — they’re only staying one more night and they drove all that way.

“A baptism by fire. Two nice sequences, and you know he had to be jittery.”

“It was an awesome feeling,” Watson said. “My dad and sister are here and my girlfriend is here, so they all got to experience it.

“Dusty [Brown] has been with me down in Indianapolis, so we had a little bit of chemistry and trust there. I was just throwing what he threw down. I believed in him, he believed in me and we got the job done.”

The Diamondbacks grabbed their first lead of the night in the top of the tenth off Daniel Moskos, as Drew drilled a slider to center field for another RBI single. Pittsburgh answered in the bottom half, though, as Andrew McCutchen hit a ground-rule double down the right field line and Neil Walker brought him home by swatting a J.J. Putz splitter up the middle.

Both teams had prime opportunities to jump on top in the eleventh but failed to plate a run. Arizona had runners on first and third with no outs against Daniel McCutchen after a Xavier Nady double and a Henry Blanco single.

McCutchen stamped out the fire, though. He struck out Ryan Roberts swinging and then got Johnson to shoot a ground ball to Overbay, who scooped the ball out of the dirt and fired to Ronny Cedeno at second base to start the 3-6-3, inning-ending double play.

“He got a lot of experience over there,” Hurdle said of Overbay. “He’s made that play before. It was as big of a double play as we’ve turned.”

Xavier Paul had a chance to end the game in the bottom of the eleventh with runners on first and third and two outs, but Micah Owings got him to fly out to left field to squelch the threat.

Prior to Andrew McCutchen’s walk-off blast in the bottom of the twelfth inning, Daniel McCutchen again danced out of danger in the top half. Gerardo Parra singled, stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch, but McCutchen got Sean Burroughs to fly out to set the stage for the Bucs’ center fielder.

The Pirates broke even during their first 60 games, outscoring their opponents by two runs. At this point in 2010, the Bucs were 23-37 and had been outscored by 140 runs.

What does reaching .500 mean to Hurdle and the Pirates?

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Hurdle said. “I understand the importance of it by walking the street and going to places, having lunch and having dinner and those kinds of things now in the ‘Burgh. It’s a snapshot of where we’re headed.

“We’re a gutty ball club. How good we are, time will tell. Sometimes we’re more stubborn than good, and sometimes we’ve got more guts than we’ve got brains. That’s all of us, and it starts with me. But I’m proud of them, I like the way they’re playing and I like the way that everybody is throwing something in there.

“If you talk to us in September twenty-something and we’re at .500 and we’re in playoff contention, it will mean a lot more,” Maholm said. “But I think everybody in here has simplified it to where we look to win series and win every day. We won another series. We’ll come in tomorrow and expect to win and sweep these guys.”

Pirates catcher Chris Snyder exited Wednesday’s game in the top of the third inning with lower back pain. In the bottom of the second, Snyder hit a line drive down the third base line and was thrown out while sliding awkwardly into the second base bag. Dusty Brown replaced Snyder behind the plate.

Snyder has a history of back ailments. He was placed on the disabled list twice for a back injury while with the Diamondbacks in 2009, undergoing surgery in September of that year, and he began the 2011 season on the DL with lower back soreness.

The Pirates and Dodgers will make up their postponed game from Wednesday, May 12, on Thursday, September 1 at 4:05 p.m.

Fans holding tickets from the May 12 rainout can use those tickets for the makeup game on Thursday, September 1, or they can exchange their tickets for any remaining home game during the 2011 regular season, excluding the following games.
• June 11 vs. New York
• June 24 vs. Boston
• June 25 vs. Boston
• June 26 vs. Boston
• July 9 vs. Chicago
• August 6 vs. San Diego
• September 24 vs. Cincinnati

Fans who would like to exchange tickets for the May 12 game may do so in person at the PNC Park Ticket Office or by mailing the unused tickets to: PITTSBURGH PIRATES Ticket Office, P.O. Box 7000, Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Fans having additional ticketing questions should call the Pirates at 1-800-BUY-BUCS or visit pirates.com/raincheck.

PNC Park does a number on right-handed hitters. The gem of the North Shore decreases home run production for righty batters by 27 percent and triples by 21 percent compared to a neutral stadium, according to StatCorner.com.

As finesse left-handers, it’s no surprise that Duke and Maholm have performed better at PNC Park than elsewhere during the course of their respective careers. Duke has a career 4.22 ERA and has surrendered 0.74 home runs per nine innings pitched at PNC. In other MLB parks, he has a 4.79 ERA and has been tagged for 1.12 homers per nine innings. Maholm’s career ERA at PNC is 3.78, with 0.66 home runs allowed per nine innings. Elsewhere, he’s got a 5.11 ERA and 1.03 HR/9.

RHP Josh Collmenter (4-1, 1.25 ERA) takes the rubber against RHP Jeff Karstens (3-4, 3.30 ERA) Thursday night. Karstens is coming off his longest outing since he transitioned back to the rotation to replace the injured Ross Ohlendorf in mid-April. Karstens lasted seven innings and threw 97 pitches versus the Phillies at PNC Park on June 3, allowing just one run and recording 10 ground ball outs but getting the no-decision in an eventual walk-off win for the Bucs.

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