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Postgame: Andrew McCutchen's walk-off home run caps zany, memorable night

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Part of the emotional energy that fuels insurgent movements is the deep-seated resentment they feel towards what they perceive as the undeserved sense of moral superiority of "The Establishment." Revolutionaries reject the cultural and economic elite's confident assertions that they possess an underlying virtue that justifies their privileged station.

The insurgents' anger can only get them so far, though. The ruling class often absorbs, co-opts or rewards society's most talented in order to protect their own interests. Moreover, the laws or, more importantly, those that enforce the laws are almost never with the rebels.

Most uprisings fail to get far because the combined forces that confront them are over-whelming.

Politics is important in the grand scheme of things and baseball is not. But in this budding (or full-blown) rivalry the Cardinals and their fans are often cast as baseball's arrogant establishment, while the Pirates and their fans take on the role of the frustrated insurgents who get close, but ultimately can't overthrow their talented, privileged and confident rivals.

It doesn't really matter if that's accurate or not, because it's sports and it's fun to care. And caring is more fun when there are make-believe ‘good' guys and ‘bad' guys.

So, when Peter Bourjos finally ran out of real estate and Andrew McCutchen's game-winning home run landed deep in the centerfield hedges, it ignited an unbridled and giddy celebration that rocked PNC Park not only because it was exciting, but also because it felt like a balance-of-power changing victory for a determined group of baseball insurgents and their fans.

And it felt that way precisely because it was the type of game that the Cardinals almost always find a way to win. With important calls going against them and the Cardinals applying constant pressure, the Pirates found a way through. Suddenly, the old script and the inherited roles don't seem as secure.

It was an exhausting, muggy night full of twists, turns and controversial calls, and it was also one of the best, most memorable, emotional and zany nights of baseball you'll ever see.

Foul Tips

When home plate umpire Vic Carapazza ruled that Mark Reynolds foul tipped a pitch that should have been strike three in the second inning, it led to some eye-rolling and incredulity.

When, on the next pitch, Reynolds unleashed a no-doubt home run into the left field seats, eye-rolling turned into anger —lots of anger.

Francisco Cervelli was ejected before Reynolds reached first base. As Burnett stood near the mound in disbelief, Clint Hurdle came rushing out of the dugout to restrain his catcher and take up the argument with Carapazza. Soon enough Hurdle was ejected too.

As the fans screamed, chaos unfolded. Hurdle argued with Carapazza, while two umpires and various Pirates personnel tried to restrain Cervelli.

"When I woke up this morning I didn't think I'd be on the couch at 7:45 watching the game," Hurdle said. "I spent a lot of time on the couch."

The Pirates manager didn't mince words when it came to how he thought Carapazza handled the situation.

"To get hooked, a short hook in the top of the second inning, for me, [it makes] no sense," Hurdle said. "No game awareness, it was hard, it was wrong. ... The quick hook just tilted me in the wrong direction."

A.J. Burnett tried to keep his composure as the scene unfolded around him.

"(Cervelli) doesn't act that way if he's not in it, he's not 100 percent certain," Burnett said. "You just try to put all the drama beside you. There's enough drama with them in town. It's a big series and these guys play us tough every time."

McCutchen's walkoff home run

Each time the Cardinals went ahead, the Pirates battled back. In the eighth they erased a two-run deficit. In the 10th, they responded to a Cardinals run with one of their own. And, finally, in the 14th, McCutchen's two-run blast completed the Bucs third and final comeback.

"We had grit all over," Hurdle said. "I'm proud, [I'm] always been proud of these guys. Tonight was just another example with an exclamation point behind it. Grit, determination, perseverance, keep playing the game. When something doesn't go right, you keep playing the game."

McCutchen looked like a man more content and exhausted than exhilarated afterwards.

"Quite the climactic ending right there," McCutchen said. "That was a lot of fun. Who would've thought it would've came down to that. ... That was definitely a game to remember."

Burnett's atypical night

It was a night of hard labor for Burnett off the mound. He allowed six hits and three runs over 6.1 innings. The Cardinals were aggressive on the bases, picking up three stolen bases against Burnett and four on the night.

The defense didn't provide Burnett with much help. The Pirates were sloppy in the field during early innings and Pedro Alvarez committed another error.

Alvarez has now committed 14 errors at first. That is the most errors by a first baseman since Joey Votto's 2012 total.

Burnett's atypical night carried over to the offensive side. In the fifth, he dropped a solo home run into the left field bleachers.

"It was so loud running around those bases," Burnett said. "All I could think about was my 11-year-old who's been begging me for a home run. I tried to explain to him that it's not that easy to hit one."

Burnett's homer was the first home run by a Pirates pitcher at PNC Park since Matt Morris hit one in 2007.

The Pirates are now 3.5 games behind the first-place Cardinals.