Streaking Cutch wins it with clutch walk-off HR
PITTSBURGH -- All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen brought another knock-down, drag-out, extra-innings battle between the Pirates and Cardinals to a dramatic ending on Saturday night at PNC Park, launching a two-run walk-off homer in the 14th, and Pittsburgh beat St. Louis, 6-5.
McCutchen blasted a 1-2 sinker from Cardinals reliever Nick Greenwood over the fence in center field for his 12th home run of the season, extending the longest hitting streak of his career to 18 games. And he savored the final moments of the back-and-forth thriller, which lasted just over five hours, placing his hands on his hips and strutting toward his teammates gathered around the plate.
Per Elias, McCutchen became the third player since 1900 to extend a hit streak of at least 15 games with a walk-off homer.
The Pirates had already engineered several dramatic comebacks, tying the score with a two-run eighth and staying alive by answering Mark Reynolds' second homer of the night in the 10th inning. Jhonny Peralta put St. Louis on top again in the 14th, but Neil Walker responded with a leadoff single and McCutchen took it from there.
"Quite the climactic ending right there. That was a lot of fun," McCutchen said. "Who would have thought it would have come down to that? I don't know, man. ... That was definitely a game to remember."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pedro pounces: Pedro Alvarez entered Saturday night with a dismal .148 batting average against left-handed pitching, but he didn't allow history to stop him from coming through in the clutch. Alvarez, facing southpaw Kevin Siegrist, lined a single into center, plating Jung Ho Kang with the game's tying run -- at the time -- in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Early "K" turns into "K.O.": A.J. Burnett appeared to pick up an inning-ending strikeout of Reynolds in the second, getting him to whiff at a curveball in the dirt. But home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza called it a foul tip, and Reynolds responded by blasting the next pitch into the left-field seats. Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli and manager Clint Hurdle were ejected during the resulting argument. More >
Reynolds, again: For the second time in the evening, Reynolds put one in the seats. In the top of the 10th inning, the power threat waited on an 0-2 changeup and launched it over the left-field wall. It gave him his 22nd career multihomer game, and his first this season.
Batman, indeed: With the Pirates shut down by John Lackey for most of the night, Burnett took matters into his own hands.
The devout Dark Knight fan was solely responsible for the Bucs' first run of the night, lining a two-out, two-strike fastball beyond the left-field wall for his first home run in nearly a decade. The home crowd of 37,318 roared to life as the 38-year-old right-hander rounded the bases and continued with its thunderous applause even after Burnett returned to the dugout.
"You get lucky every once in a while," Burnett said. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Burnett's home run was the fourth of his career and his first since July 24, 2005. He hit that one against the Giants -- off former Pirate Kevin Correia, no less -- while playing for the Marlins.
Gerrit Cole was the last Pirates pitcher to go deep, doing so at Wrigley Field on Sept. 7. The most recent homer by a Pirates pitcher at PNC Park came from Matt Morris on Aug. 4, 2007, against the Reds.
"When I woke up this morning, I didn't think I'd be on the couch at 7:45, watching the game. I spent a lot of time on the couch." --Hurdle, who watched the final 12 innings from his office after his ejection
"There's nothing like it. I enjoyed that one. But I also enjoyed A.J.'s homer. It was definitely, all-around, a tremendous game." --McCutchen
With two runners on and one out in the fifth inning, Cardinals right fielder Jason Heyward chopped a ground ball under the glove of first baseman Alvarez. Kolten Wong scrambled from first to third on Alvarez's error, but the Pirates challenged to determine whether Wong touched second base. After a review, the replay official could not definitively determine whether Wong touched second, and the ruling on the field stood.
Wong was the subject of another review in the seventh inning. Wong walked and successfully stole second base, and Walker held the tag on Wong as he slid into second and shuffled his feet on and off the bag. With a little encouragement from Pirates coach Dave Jauss, crew chief Larry Vanover initiated a review that confirmed the ruling on the field that Wong was safe.
Cardinals: Rookie left-hander Tim Cooney will make his fourth start of the season as St. Louis plays its final game before the All-Star break at 7:05 p.m. CT on Sunday at PNC Park. Despite being tabbed with the loss, Cooney pitched well in his last outing, surrendering just one earned run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Cubs.
Pirates: Left-hander Francisco Liriano will take the mound as the Pirates close out the first half of the season under the national spotlight against the Cardinals at 8:05 p.m. ET on Sunday at PNC Park. Over his last nine starts, covering 60 2/3 innings, Liriano is 4-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 67 strikeouts.
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