July 18, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher James McDonald (53) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
The Pirates got little help from James McDonald (five innings, six earned runs), Andrew McCutchen (0-for-4 with a walk) or Neil Walker (same), but still managed to beat the Rockies 9-6 and win the series.
Pedro Alvarez hit a solo homer in the top of the second, but the Rockies responded in the bottom of the inning with a single by Jordan Pacheco, a double by Josh Rutledge, a walk by Fowler and then a couple weakly-hit balls to bring home two runners. Colorado had hit McDonald hard to start the game, but in the second, they found that not hitting him hard worked for them, too.
The Pirates came screaming back in the third and took a 6-5 lead. McDonald singled and McCutchen walked, and then Garrett Jones brought them both home with a two-out homer. Then Casey McGehee reached on an error, Alvarez singled on a ball Rutledge probably should have fielded, and Rod Barajas got hit by a pitch. Clint Barmes then dinked a shallow fly ball into the outfield for a single that scored two.
The Rockies tied the game in the fourth on an RBI single by Andrew Brown. But the Pirates scored three more in the fifth on homers by McGehee and Barajas. The Pirates got through the sixth and seventh thanks to two very good innings from Brad Lincoln. Jason Grilli came on to pitch the eighth and put two runners on, but Tony Watson bailed him out with a groundout and a strikeout. Joel Hanrahan got the save in the ninth.
McDonald's struggles in his last couple outings are worth watching, but with a four-homer performance by the offense, it almost doesn't matter how bad he was. Of course, Coors Field is a factor here. The Pirates return to a lower altitude on Friday.