Another day, another win. The Pirates banked their 91st victory of the season by beating the Rockies 6-3 Tuesday night in Denver, Of course, the Cardinals and Cubs won as well, so the Bucs didn't gain any ground in the NL Central, but they'll clinch a playoff spot if the Giants lose to the Padres tonight.
The Bucs took an early lead and never let it go. Josh Harrison led off the game with a ground-ball single off Chris Rusin. Gregory Polanco grounded into a force out and then moved up to second as Andrew McCutchen walked. Starling Marte doubled into the corner to bring home Polanco.
McCutchen, in an uncharacteristic mistake, inexplicably stopped at third on the play even though he could have come home easily, and he didn't end up scoring. But the Pirates had enough offense in them that the run he represented didn't end up mattering. In the second, Michael Morse walked, Jordy Mercer grounded into a force out, and J.A. Happ moved Mercer up to second with a sacrifice. Harrison followed with a double down the line in left to bring home a run, and Polanco singled softly up the middle to plate another.
Wilin Rosario homered off Happ in the bottom of the second to cut the lead to 3-1, but the Pirates scored again in the third as Francisco Cervelli singled, moved up on Rusin's balk, and came home on a broken-bat single by Michael Morse.
Happ gave up two runs on a series of singles in the bottom of the third, but the Bucs tacked on two more in the fourth. Polanco walked and then scored on a rare triple by Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez lifted a fly ball to center, and Charlie Blackmon tried to catch it at the wall, but it caromed back toward the infield. Ramirez then came home as Marte reached on a dribbler to third.
Ramirez later left the game with groin tightness. That doesn't sound serious, but here's hoping he's okay -- he's hit very well this month, and the Pirates can really use him with Jung-Ho Kang out for the season. (Also, if he doesn't return before the Bucs' playoff run concludes, tonight will have been his last big-league game.)
The Rockies lost their third baseman as well -- Nolan Arenado left the game after hitting his face in the dirt while trying to make a play in the field. We'll see if he's available the rest of the series.
Happ exited after 5.1 innings and 82 pitches. He allowed three runs and left his pitches up a few times, but this was Coors Field. Otherwise, he was basically the same Happ we've come to appreciate, striking out eight batters and walking one. Jared Hughes induced a ground-ball double play to end the sixth, and Antonio Bastardo, Joakim Soria and Mark Melancon finished out the game.