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Pirates hold on for 6-5 victory over Diamondbacks

Christian Petersen

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by Garrett Jones, but the Diamondbacks jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the inning when James McDonald walked two batters, Miguel Montero hit a low fastball for a two-run double into the gap, and Jason Kubel blasted a two-run homer.

McDonald didn't have particularly good control -- he walked four batters in five innings, and both his walks in the first came on four pitches. Given that and the Pirates' offense so far this season, you might have been forgiven for turning the game off.

In the fourth, though, Pedro Alvarez reached on an error, Travis Snider walked, and McDonald singled to load the bases. Then Starling Marte slashed an opposite-field double down the line to bring in two runs, Neil Walker grounded a two-run single up the middle to give the Bucs the lead, and Jones added an RBI single of his own.

The Diamondbacks scored one more in the seventh, as Alfredo Marte doubled and came home later on a sacrifice. But the Bucs held on for a 6-5 victory.

There is a risk, at this point in the season, of overreacting to every win or loss. As depressing as some of the Pirates' losses have been, though, these last two wins have been great. When they're winning, the Pirates aren't looking like a bad team that's backing into occasional victories. This is the toolsiest Pirates team I can remember. The offense has Andrew McCutchen, of course, and I'm increasingly hopeful that Starling Marte can become a beast, a Gold-Glove-caliber outfielder who sprays line drives all over the place. The team defense looks fairly good. The high-leverage relievers look like they could be excellent.

Marte continued his excellent play to start the season, going 2-for-5 with a stolen base. Marte and Travis Snider (who had another solid game, going 2-for-3 with a double and a walk) both made very impressive throws, although Clint Barmes cut off both of them. Garrett Jones went 3-for-5. Tony Watson got a huge double play in the sixth. Jared Hughes didn't pitch well, walking two batters, but Andrew McCutchen bailed him out by making a big catch going back on a ball in the seventh. And Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli just look awesome. Whatever doubts I might have had about the construction of this bullpen are quickly vanishing, because Grilli looks like he's going to be a lights-out closer and Melancon looks like he might be a very valuable setup guy (and because Justin Wilson looked so great last night).

The team still has plenty of question marks, beginning with the injury-riddled starting rotation. Pedro Alvarez is still in a funk. But this team is going to win some games. I still don't think it's a winning team, but McCutchen, Marte and the bullpen will be a ton of fun to watch this summer. And it's great to see so many new players -- Marte, Melancon, Snider -- come up big.