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Andrew McCutchen caps 6-run inning with homer as Pirates win fourth straight

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Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates rode a long series of mistakes by Matt Cain and a two-run homer by Andrew McCutchen to a 6-5 win over the Giants Wednesday afternoon, completing a series sweep.

Ivan Nova staked the Giants to a 4-0 lead, but was more effective than that his run total indicated. He struck out five and walked none, and gave up two runs in the third thanks to a shift-busting ground-ball single from Buster Posey and a triple by Brandon Crawford that McCutchen seemed to lose in the sun.

Giants starter Cain, though, entered the game with a 5.47 ERA, and didn't disappoint us, allowing the Pirates back into the game and then some with a monstrously messy fifth inning. He kicked off the inning by hitting David Freese, then walking John Jaso, Jordy Mercer and Eric Fryer. The ever-reliable Matt Joyce came to the plate and brought home two runs with a ground-ball single, cutting the lead to 4-3 with the Pirates' first hit of the inning. Josh Harrison tied the game with a sacrifice fly.

Two batters later, with two outs, McCutchen came to the plate and took advantage of Cain's hanging two-seamer (I'm not sure fastballs are supposed to hang, but this one definitely did), blasting it to center for his 17th homer of the year and putting the Pirates up by two. McCutchen also singled today, so he had two hits in each game of this series. Today's homer was exactly the kind of opportunistic display of power we'd gotten used to seeing from McCutchen in the past. A handful of strong games is way too few from which to draw strong conclusions, but offensively, he certainly looked like the old Cutch today.

From there, Jeff Locke, Juan Nicasio and Felipe Rivero took over in the Pirates' bullpen and pitched four scoreless innings between them. Tony Watson loaded the bases in the ninth, but got Posey to ground into a double play and Crawford to fly out, and he escaped with the tying run on third.

The Cardinals won, and the Marlins play tonight. The Bucs remain a game behind the Cardinals in the race for the second Wild Card, and they're a half game ahead of Miami.