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Cutch looks to build off towering homer

All-Star outfielder launches 443-foot blast in 9th inning

PITTSBURGH -- Taking after their manager, the Pirates don't recognize moral victories. So Andrew McCutchen's ninth-inning act didn't salvage anything from the 4-1 loss to St. Louis on Thursday. It was a pre-show for Friday.

"It felt good," McCutchen said of the swing that launched a 443-foot homer over PNC Park's fence in dead center field and up against the distant green batters' eye. "I'll take it into tomorrow."

McCutchen prepped not only for Friday's rematch with the Cardinals but for his start in Tuesday night's All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile by winning a battle of wills with St. Louis reliever Seth Maness. Leading off the last inning, the two battled through 11 pitches, and in the end, McCutchen pummeled a 91-mph sinker for his 11th homer of the season to extend his hitting streak to 16 games.

Video: Must C Catch: ASG bound J. Upton robs Cutch of homer"I can't use that 'the ball is not carrying' thing anymore," McCutchen said of the reaction he has had to some drives that felt gone off the bat but weren't. Such as the Tuesday-night shot pulled to left that stayed just enough "in play" for San Diego's Justin Upton to snatch out of the seats with a sensational leaping catch.

"It's the best home run I've hit in a while," said McCutchen, who during his career-best hitting streak has laced other balls as hard, if not as high.

:: All-Star Game on FOX: Tuesday, Coverage begins 7 ET ::

With the homer his only hit in four at-bats, McCutchen's average took a little dip but still remains above .300. His 83-game line of .301 with 11 homers and 54 RBIs is in startling contrast to what it was on May 6, after 26 games: .188-2-13.

Before the 11-pitch victory over Maness, McCutchen had lost three battles to Carlos Martinez that had involved a total of 12 pitches.

"He was working the zone pretty good," McCutchen said of the Cardinals' young right-hander. "He seemed like he had pretty good command of all his pitches, some really good stuff. The first few innings he wasn't getting ahead, and then seemed to settle in."

In other words, Martinez was in no mood to allow the Pirates to make up for squandering some early opportunities. After a pair of two-on, none-out threats in the first and fourth innings, Martinez pretty much slammed that door.

"We had chances in this game," McCutchen said. "Against a good team like the Cardinals, you got to be able to come through in those situations more times than not. We definitely missed out on some opportunities, but you learn from what you did today and get ready for the next day."

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast.
Read More: Pittsburgh Pirates, Andrew McCutchen