McCutchen surges in latest All-Star ballot update

McCutchen surges in latest All-Star ballot update

Giants catcher Buster Posey (1,679,730) overtook St. Louis backstop Yadier Molina (1,542,231) for the top spot among National League catchers this week, and Posey is now the third top vote-getter in the league, according to Tuesday's update of voting on the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper (2,323,186) continues to lead the league in voting, with Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter (1,974,503) behind him.

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Cole cruises to victory over Giants

Cole cruises to victory over Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole, the National League's Pitcher of the Month for April, performed Monday night as if he turned the calendar backward instead of forward.

Cole allowed a pair of unearned first-inning runs before shutting down the San Francisco Giants for the remainder of his seven-inning outing as the Pirates held on for a 4-3 triumph. Cole improved to 3-0 lifetime against the Giants, who vanquished Pittsburgh in last year's Wild Card Game en route to their World Series triumph.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs fan nearly costs Pirates on foul ball

Interference ruled after Hurdle's replay challenge, ending Giants' threat

Bucs fan nearly costs Pirates on foul ball

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gregory Polanco got all roughed up -- then he got an apology.

That's the way the Buccos' right fielder recalled his encounter with an enthusiastic AT&T Park fan who prevented his catch of a Buster Posey foul with two outs in the eighth inning of the Pirates' 4-3 win over the Giants.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole finds 'another gear' to thwart Giants

Pirates starter joins Colon, Hernandez atop Majors with eight wins

Cole finds 'another gear' to thwart Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- For one night at least, King Felix had to share his throne with King Cole. Gerrit Cole's reward for the seven dogged innings that set up the Bucs' 4-3 win over the Giants was his eighth win of the season -- tying him for the Major League lead with both Felix Hernandez and Bartolo Colon.

However, neither of those other two right-handers can approach Cole's 1.90 ERA -- no more than the Giants could approach him when the AT&T Park action came to a head in the sixth inning.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen denied by Giants' 2 superb catches

Pagan, Pence make dazzling grabs to rob Pirates star of multiple RBIs

McCutchen denied by Giants' 2 superb catches

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen saw double Monday, but he didn't see doubles. Or triples.

McCutchen should have accumulated a fat total of RBIs befitting his status as a perennial Most Valuable Player candidate. But center fielder Angel Pagan and right fielder Hunter Pence of the Giants denied McCutchen a big night by taking turns robbing him of extra-base hits that would have scored multiple runs in the third and fifth innings of the Pirates' 4-3 victory.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Burnett seeking support in clash with Giants

Burnett seeking support in clash with Giants

Starting pitchers can't help having their performances reflected in their team's offense. Take the Pirates' A.J. Burnett, who Tuesday night will face the Giants' Chris Heston in the middle game of the teams' AT&T Park series.

Burnett received plaudits as a Pitcher of the Month candidate after going 5-0 with an ERA of 1.82 in May. But he wasn't getting any notice during an April when he was winless in four starts -- with an even lower 1.80 ERA. Ah, the difference made by getting only a total of four runs' support in April, versus 36 in May.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates sticking with Locke as starter

Team believes left-hander can make corrections in side sessions

Pirates sticking with Locke as starter

SAN FRANCISCO - Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on Monday headed off any uncertainty or controversy concerning Jeff Locke's spot in his rotation, giving the lefty both his next assignment and a strong vote of confidence.

Locke will take his next regular turn, in Saturday's middle game of the weekend series in Atlanta. Hurdle made that plain the day after Locke was scored upon in each of his four innings in San Diego, allowing a total of seven runs.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Hanson on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

Astros prospect hit five bombs, drove in 19 on strength of three-homer, 12-RBI game

Hanson on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible, including big leaguers.

Derek Fisher needed just one game to cement his spot on the Prospect Team of the Week. Making his high Class A debut on Saturday, the Astros outfielder broke a 61-year-old California League record with 12 RBIs.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen embraces growing leadership role

Pirates outfielder integral to team dynamic, Hurdle says

McCutchen embraces growing leadership role

SAN DIEGO -- After Saturday night's victory over the Padres, center fielder Andrew McCutchen made a pit stop at the foot of the left-field bleachers in Petco Park and handed his batting gloves to a pair of fans wearing Pirates colors.

McCutchen said he noticed the family of four cheering on the Bucs and waving the team flag as Mark Melancon whiffed Derek Norris to end the 5-2 win. McCutchen didn't stop to chat. He quickly sprinted toward the infield for a brief celebration.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Locke knocked around early in rout

Locke knocked around early in rout

SAN DIEGO -- Will Middlebrooks knocked in three runs and Odrisamer Despaigne allowed one run over a career-high eight innings Sunday as the Padres defeated the Pirates, 7-1, before a crowd of 20,556 at Petco Park.

Jedd Gyorko knocked in two runs for the Padres (25-27) and Clint Barmes had three hits against his former team as the teams split the four-game series.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen gives his batting gloves to adorable fans

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McCutchen gives his batting gloves to adorable fans

Carl Jung once wrote in "The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man:"

"The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night..."

If you ever wanted to see what exactly that inner sanctum looks like, all you need to do is watch these two young Pirates fans at the end of the Pirates' 5-2 victory against the Padres on Saturday. After cheering for Andrew McCutchen all game, the All-Star center fielder rewarded them with his batting gloves/magical totems of Major League success, overloading their little minds with a burst of happiness-inducing endorphins in the process. 

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Morton's solid start, RBI lift Bucs over Padres

Morton's solid start, RBI lift Bucs over Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Charlie Morton allowed one earned run over seven innings Saturday and also knocked in a run as the Pirates beat the Padres, 5-2, in front of a sold-out crowd of 43,207 at Petco Park.

Morton (2-0) allowed three hits with one walk and two strikeouts. He got 16 groundball outs. Morton gave the Pirates (26-23) the lead for good when he hit into a fielder's choice in the sixth inning. The Bucs have won eight of their last nine games.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Morton fits right in, keeps starters' roll going

Pirates sinkerballer impressive in just second start since hip surgery

Morton fits right in, keeps starters' roll going

SAN DIEGO -- For a guy only recently recovered from right-hip surgery and making just his second start, on Saturday night against the Padres, Charlie Morton fit right into what the rest of the Pirates starters have been doing the last 10 games.

After a leadoff walk to Will Venable in the first inning followed by Yangervis Solarte's RBI-gap double to left center, Morton settled in and ran a clinic as a sinkerball pitcher. The Pirates went on for a 5-2 win, the eighth in their last nine games.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle explains early hook for Liriano on Friday

Pirates manager was being cautious with starter, takes blame for loss

Hurdle explains early hook for Liriano on Friday

SAN DIEGO -- Lost in the craziness of the Pirates' 6-2, final-inning loss to the Padres on Friday night at Petco Park was the six innings of shutout ball tossed by Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had myriad reasons to yank Liriano, after the left-hander threw only 96 pitches, striking out 11, allowing only three hits, and walking just one.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Liriano fans 11, but bullpen coughs up game

Liriano fans 11, but bullpen coughs up game

SAN DIEGO -- Derek Norris hit a walk-off grand slam in the ninth to lift the Padres to a 6-2 win over the Pirates Friday night at Petco Park. Francisco Liriano gave the Pirates all he had for six innings, allowing only three hits and striking out 11, but the bullpen couldn't hold a two-run lead

The shot to left-center snapped Pittsburgh's seven-game winning streak and came after the Padres loaded the bases with none out off reliever Rob Scahill. The Pirates then pulled Gregory Polanco from right field, replacing him with Sean Rodriguez and then moving him to the infield. Playing in tight and with five infielders, pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista and Yangervis Solarte bounced into the forceouts at the plate before Norris hit the homer.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Jay Paris is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scahill's error begins nightmarish sequence

Pirates reliever takes blame for ninth-inning to forget

Scahill's error begins nightmarish sequence

SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates lost Friday night's game at Petco Park in a wacky ninth inning that ended with Padres catcher Derek Norris becoming the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit a walk-off grand slam after striking out the first four times he came to plate.

"But that's not what cost us the game," said Pirates right-hander Rob Scahill, who pitched as nightmarish a ninth inning as anyone could ever imagine in the 6-2 loss at Petco Park. "It was the throw to first. I messed it up. Nobody feels worse about it than me."

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alvarez still has learning curve at first base

Pirates infielder has had some trouble with the nuances of new position

Alvarez still has learning curve at first base

SAN DIEGO -- The transition of Pedro Alvarez from third base to first base is still a work in progress, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Friday night, hours before his club played the Padres in the second game of a four-game set at Petco Park.

"I really think he still needs those game-speed repetitions," Hurdle said. "It's getting to that point. … We've got something else in mind that we'll talk about internally. It may be some different nuances where the positioning can help."

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs roll to seventh straight with rout of Padres

Bucs roll to seventh straight with rout of Padres

SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates continued to ride their starting pitching Thursday night against the Padres at Petco Park as they won their seventh in a row, 11-5, this time behind veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett.

Pirates starters are 7-0 during the streak and Burnett continued a spectacular May. In this month alone, Burnett is 5-0, winning five in a row in his six starts. But it was his worst outing of the month statistically, as he allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. Burnett had allowed five runs (four earned) in his previous six starts.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Jay Paris is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

5 questions Bucs have answered on hot streak

Pittsburgh soaring into NL Central contention brings clarity to preseason wonders

5 questions Bucs have answered on hot streak

The Pirates have won seven straight games to join a three-team party in the National League Central, a division in which three clubs -- the Cardinals, Cubs and Bucs -- are separated by six games.

All three teams began this season with important questions. All had high expectations, too. After winning back-to-back NL Wild Card spots, the Pirates said they were focused on "the next step." In other words, winning the NL Central.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Burnett finds vintage form in final season

Pirates pitcher wins fifth straight, overcomes defense's miscues

Burnett finds vintage form in final season

SAN DIEGO -- A.J. Burnett is having a May to remember. The Pirates have won seven in a row and their starters are 7-0 with 2.39 ERA during that run.

Burnett has made six starts this month and is 5-0 with wins in each of his last five starts. He was only as good as he had to be Thursday night in an 11-5 win over the Padres at Petco Park.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Polanco stays positive through growing pains

After bursting onto scene as a rookie, outfielder adjusting through struggles

Polanco stays positive through growing pains

PITTSBURGH -- At the plate with two outs in the eighth inning Wednesday at PNC Park, Gregory Polanco's powerful, looping left-handed swing connected with an 84 mph slider from Marlins reliever Vin Mazzaro and sent the ball crashing high off the Clemente Wall in right field.

After jogging toward first, Polanco broke into a long-striding sprint and sailed into third base for an easy standup triple -- the first of his career.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kingham undergoes Tommy John surgery

No. 6-ranked Pirates prospect made six starts in Triple-A before elbow injury

Kingham undergoes Tommy John surgery

SAN DIEGO -- Nick Kingham, a 23-year-old right-hander in the Pirates' Minor League system, underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.

"I have not talked to Nick," Hurdle said prior to the Pirates taking their six-game winning streak into the opener of a four-game series against the Padres at Petco Park on Thursday night.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rally vs. Marlins 'pen lifts Bucs to 6th straight

Rally vs. Marlins 'pen lifts Bucs to 6th straight

PITTSBURGH -- Led by another strong start from Gerrit Cole, the Pirates rallied to score five runs with two outs in the seventh inning and beat the Marlins, 5-2, on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park.

The Pirates have won a season-high six straight games, completing back-to-back sweeps against the Mets and Marlins. It's their longest winning streak since June 20-30, 2013.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alvarez, Marte go against the grain to help Bucs

Left-handed hitter delivers to opposite field, while free swinger draws bases-loaded walk

Alvarez, Marte go against the grain to help Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- Looking back on the state of his team six days ago, manager Clint Hurdle described the Pirates as the "definition of insanity." They believed in their talent, but the process and results were too often the same. And so the Pirates sat at 18-22.

"If you want more, you've got to do more," Hurdle said after Wednesday's 5-2 win over the Marlins, the Pirates' sixth straight. "The last six games, they've done more."

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen 11th in NL outfield on ballot update

McCutchen 11th in NL outfield on ballot update

PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen was the Pirates' lone representative in the first National League update to the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot, released Wednesday afternoon.

McCutchen received 339,566 votes from fans, putting him 11th among all NL outfielders. Nationals slugger Bryce Harper ranks first among outfielders and leads the NL with 1,116,582 votes.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole racks up another win with efficiency

Righty doesn't walk batter, denies Marlins opportunities for run-scoring rallies

Cole racks up another win with efficiency

PITTSBURGH -- As dominant as Gerrit Cole has been so far this season, what impressed Pirates manager Clint Hurdle the most on Wednesday was the young right-hander's efficiency.

Cole breezed through seven innings on 81 pitches, scattering seven hits and striking out seven. He didn't walk a batter. Both runs he allowed in Pittsburgh's 5-2 win over Miami at PNC Park came on solo home runs.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs hit Marlins rookie hard, win 5th straight

Bucs hit Marlins rookie hard, win 5th straight

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates rode left-hander Jeff Locke's solid start and a two-out barrage to a 5-1 win over the Marlins on Tuesday night at PNC Park, the Bucs' fifth straight win.

The victory tied Pittsburgh's longest winning streak of the season and put the Pirates back over .500, at 23-22. Locke's pitch count quickly increased as he walked a season-high four batters, but he got through 5 2/3 scoreless innings and let the Bucs' bullpen take over from there.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.