Rockies take 3 of 4 from Pirates
By Rob Biertempfel, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, April 10, 2011

A big leap forward for James McDonald. A small step back for Mike Crotta.

A bases-loaded walk issued by Crotta in the seventh inning Sunday allowed the Colorado Rockies to edge the Pirates, 6-5. It was the first run yielded this season by the rookie reliever.

[IMGR]http://i54.tinypic.com/9vf9rs.jpg[/IMGR]"Tough day," said Crotta (0-1), who faced four batters without getting an out. "Just didn't execute my pitches. It's tough to get outs when you walk people."

Crotta entered the game with two outs in the seventh inning, a runner on first base and the Pirates leading, 5-4. He walked the first batter he faced, Jonathan Herrera, on five pitches.

Jason Giambi slapped an RBI single to right field, tying the score at 5. Troy Tulowitzki and Seth Smith both walked on 3-1 counts, the latter forcing in Herrera from third with the winning run.

"If they put it in play, chances are they'll hit it at somebody," Crotta said. "When you walk somebody, there's nothing anybody can do to help you."

Smith bats left-handed, but the Pirates were unable to counter with a lefty reliever. Their lone southpaw in the bullpen, Garrett Olson, was rested after tossing 31/3 innings over the previous three games. Veteran right-handers Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Jeff Karstens also were unavailable.

"In a perfect world, you'd like to have a couple lefties (in the bullpen)," manager Clint Hurdle said. "With what we had available, (Crotta) was our most viable option. He hadn't had any trouble with lefties up to this point."

Left-handers were 2 for 6 against Crotta over his first four outings.

McDonald also struggled, but he had an advantage over Crotta -- time to rebound.

In the first inning, McDonald faced nine batters and gave up four runs, three hits, two walks and one hit batsman. He threw 38 pitches, only 19 of them for strikes.

The right-hander got stronger as the game went on. Over the next 52/3 innings, McDonald allowed just three hits and one walk. He retired seven of the final eight batters he faced.

After Tulowitzki hit a leadoff double in the third, McDonald set down the next five batters.

"That's when it clicked," McDonald said. "I felt real good after that."

McDonald finished with 103 pitches (57 strikes) -- 16 more than he threw in his season debut April 5 in St. Louis.

"That's a significant bump up," Hurdle said. "He did an outstanding job after the first inning."

McDonald missed more than two weeks in spring training because of an injury to his left side. By ramping up his pitch count and recovering from the first-inning struggles, McDonald cemented his spot in the rotation.

"I feel like I'm kind of getting stretched out still," McDonald said. "Today was a huge step."

The Pirates got a run in the second inning off right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (2-0). In the third, they sent seven batters to the plate and tied it, 4-4.

Andrew McCutchen dropped an RBI single into left field, and Lyle Overbay blasted a two-run double to center. But Ryan Doumit choked off the rally by grounding into a double play.

The Pirates managed just two hits the rest of the game.

McDonald reached on an infield single with one out in the fourth. Jose Tabata singled, extending his hitting streak to 10 games -- the longest active string in the majors.

Both runners advanced when Chacin's attempted pickoff throw went into center field. Neil Walker rolled a grounder to first base, scoring McDonald to make it 5-4.

How they scored

[HIGH-LIGHT]-- Rockies first inning (James McDonald pitching)[/HIGH-LIGHT]

With one out, Jonathan Herrera walked and stole second. With two outs, Troy Tulowitzki walked. Seth Smith singled to center field, Herrera scored, Tulowitzki to second. Jose Lopez hit a three-run homer (No. 2) to left on the first pitch.

Rockies 4, Pirates 0

[HIGH-LIGHT]-- Pirates second (Jhoulys Chacin pitching)[/HIGH-LIGHT]

Pedro Alvarez singled to second. Ryan Doumit singled to right, Alvarez to second. Garrett Jones walked, loading the bases. Ronny Cedeno hit a sacrifice fly to center, Alvarez scored, Doumit to third.

Rockies 4, Pirates 1

[HIGH-LIGHT]-- Pirates third[/HIGH-LIGHT]

Jose Tabata was hit by a pitch. Neil Walker singled to center, Tabata to second. Andrew McCutchen singled to left, Tabata scored, Walker to third and McCutchen to second on fielding error by left fielder Ty Wigginton. Lyle Overbay doubled to center, Walker and McCutchen scored.

Pirates 4, Rockies 4

[HIGH-LIGHT]-- Pirates fourth[/HIGH-LIGHT]

With one out, McDonald singled to second. Jose Tabata singled to left, McDonald to second. Throwing error by Chacin, McDonald to third, Tabata to second. Walker grounded out to first, McDonald scored.

Pirates 5, Rockies 4

[HIGH-LIGHT]-- Rockies seventh[/HIGH-LIGHT]

With two outs, Dexter Fowler singled to center. (Mike Crotta pitching) Fowler stole second. Herrera walked. Jason Giambi singled to right, Fowler scored, Herrera to third. Tulowitzki walked, loading the bases. Smith walked, Herrera scored, Esmil Rogers (pinch-running for Giambi) to third, Tulowitzki to second.

Rockies 6, Pirates 5

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