Marte's ninth-inning single lifts Pirates past D-backs

Marte's ninth-inning single lifts Pirates past D-backs

A.J. Burnett and Rubby De La Rosa tangled in a battle of right-handers on Saturday at Chase Field with each pitcher throwing seven innings of one-run ball.

But neither hurler was around when Starling Marte singled home Neil Walker off Addison Reed with two out in the top of the ninth, giving the Bucs a 2-1 win in the second game of the three-game set. Tony Watson pitched out of big trouble in the bottom of the eighth to earn the win.

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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. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen on mini-slump: 'It's a matter of time'

McCutchen on mini-slump: 'It's a matter of time'

PHOENIX -- While it may not be possible to truly enjoy the deepest slump of your career, Andrew McCutchen is at least getting a kick out of his current drought.

An 0-for-4 in the Bucs' 2-1 Saturday night victory dug McCutchen's rut 16 at-bats deep. Including a pinch-hitting appearance, he has gone five consecutive games without a hit. Both represent career depths.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Watson brings out eighth-inning hammer for Bucs

Watson brings out eighth-inning hammer for Bucs

PHOENIX -- There is no truth to the fable that in 1939 playwright Eugene O'Neill wrote "The Iceman Cometh" in a moment of premonition about a future left-handed relief pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Nevertheless, Tony Watson keeps playing the part, and he particularly brought down the house Saturday night.

Watson's icy response to a harrowing eighth-inning threat maintained a 1-1 tie in a game the Bucs would take, 2-1.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Melancon comes through for third straight game

Melancon comes through for third straight game

PHOENIX -- Mark Melancon did not figure to be the man coming out of the bullpen if the Pirates needed a game to be saved Saturday night.

The closer who has pitched under a microscope had done his job well the previous two games, picking up saves on Thursday and Friday, with perfect ninth innings against the Cubs and the Diamondbacks.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Liriano looks to beat D-backs for first time in career

Liriano looks to beat D-backs for first time in career

When Francisco Liriano starts for the Pirates in Sunday's series finale against Arizona, he'll be working off quite a checklist.

Getting a series sweep for the Bucs and his own first victory of the season are on that list, but topping it is yet another personal item: The former American Leaguer has faced 29 of the 30 MLB teams (all but Miami), and has at least one win over all of them except for the D-backs, although this will be only his third career start against them.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole delivers ace-like outing vs. D-backs

Pirates righty has seven straight wins dating back to last season

Cole delivers ace-like outing vs. D-backs

PHOENIX -- Early in Friday night's game, Gerrit Cole glanced up at Chase Field's video board and read the numbers next to the names of D-backs big boppers Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo with an inner scowl.

"Gosh, they're hitting near .300," Cole mused to himself.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates cruise with Cole leading the charge

Pirates cruise with Cole leading the charge

PHOENIX -- Gerrit Cole won his third straight start and improved to 7-0 in his last nine outings as he handcuffed the D-backs for 7 2/3 innings and the Pirates hung on for a 4-1 win on Friday night at Chase Field.

The Pirates jumped on D-backs starter Josh Collmenter for three runs in the first two innings, which provided all the support that Cole needed. Collmenter settled in to retire 12 straight after the rough beginning.

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Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harrison cashing in on rare chances with RISP

Pirates third baseman drives in two runs with a double

Harrison cashing in on rare chances with RISP

PHOENIX -- If you thought you saw Pirates third baseman Josh Harrison's eyes grow bigger when he strode to the plate with two men on base in the second inning Friday night, you saw correctly.

Except Harrison always has that look with a bat in his hands.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

8-pitch at-bat by Polanco impresses Hurdle

Outfielder put Pirates ahead with RBI single vs. Cubs lefty Coke

8-pitch at-bat by Polanco impresses Hurdle

PHOENIX -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle confirmed on Friday what people thought they were seeing on Thursday: A defining at-bat in Gregory Polanco's career.

Not for the simple reason that Polanco's seventh-inning single broke a 4-4 tie against the Cubs and gave the Bucs an eventual 5-4 win at PNC Park. It wasn't the "what" so much as the "how."

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen on Delgado HBP: 'It's the past'

Center fielder took a pitch to the back during series at Chase Field last year

McCutchen on Delgado HBP: 'It's the past'

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Conversing about the offshoot of inside pitches was a doubly relevant topic Friday for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

There was the memory of Andrew McCutchen's prior appearance here, which ended with him needing help putting on his shoes in Chase Field's visitors' clubhouse. A pitch by Arizona reliever Randall Delgado into his spine may have contributed to an avulsion rib fracture that had curbed his mobility -- and a week later would introduce him to the disabled list for the first time in his career.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Polanco's third hit caps Pirates' comeback vs. Cubs

Polanco's third hit caps Pirates' comeback vs. Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco hit an RBI double in a three-run sixth inning and a tie-breaking RBI single in the seventh to lift the Pirates to a 5-4 victory over the Cubs on Thursday, and split the four-game series.

"Arguably for us, it's one of the best team wins since I've been here with what we had and what we went out there with and how we were able to battle," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Despite scuffling, Locke bends but doesn't break

Despite scuffling, Locke bends but doesn't break

PITTSBURGH -- Left-hander Jeff Locke yielded four runs over five innings and received a no-decision as the Pirates rallied for a 5-4 win over the Cubs on Thursday afternoon.

Locke allowed seven hits and issued three walks, but he was able to use seven strikeouts to his advantage and limit the damage.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marte day to day with bruised right hand

Marte day to day with bruised right hand

PITTSBURGH -- Held out of the starting lineup with a bruised right hand, Starling Marte pinch-ran for Corey Hart in the seventh inning of the Pirates' 5-4 win over the Cubs on Thursday afternoon.

Marte was removed for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning of Wednesday night's 4-3 victory over Chicago, two innings after being hit on the right hand by a pitch from Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Worley displays mettle in tough spots

Worley displays mettle in tough spots

PITTSBURGH -- Vance Worley limited the Cubs to one unearned run over 5 2/3 innings en route to the victory in the Pirates' 4-3 win on Wednesday night at PNC Park.

It was a windy, snowy affair and Worley battled through it, working around six hits and two walks while striking out five.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates stave off late rally to edge Cubs

Pirates stave off late rally to edge Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco smacked a solo home run and Francisco Cervelli hit an RBI double to lift the Pirates to a 4-3 victory over the Cubs, who came up short in a comeback bid on a chilly Wednesday night at PNC Park.

Polanco connected in the fifth off Jason Hammel, who took the loss, only the Cubs' fourth in their last 11 games. Vance Worley picked up the win, holding Chicago to one unearned run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marte day to day after getting hit in hand

Marte day to day after getting hit in hand

PITTSBURGH -- Starling Marte was hit by a pitch on his right hand in the third inning of Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Cubs, and the outfielder left the game in the fifth.

X-rays on the hand were negative, and Marte was diagnosed with a soft tissue injury. The club will see how he feels for Thursday's matinee finale.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mazeroski among Bucs' Franchise Four leaders

Mazeroski among Bucs' Franchise Four leaders

PITTSBURGH -- The first voting results of Major League Baseball's Franchise Four campaign, announced Wednesday, reveal the Pirates' only living Hall of Famer among the four leaders as the most impactful players in the franchise's history.

Bill Mazeroski is running fourth in the voting, which is led by fellow Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Honus Wagner.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rehabbing Morton set for simulated game

Rehabbing Morton set for simulated game

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Charlie Morton, recovering from right hip surgery, is on track to make a 65-pitch start in an extended spring training game, which is tentatively scheduled for Thursday. If that goes well, he will join one of the Pirates' Minor League clubs for a rehab assignment.

Morton's rehab stint is expected to last a full 30 days before he is activated. That would put his tentative return from the disabled list around June 1.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle not fretting Melancon's early woes

Infielder Sellers making strides on rehab assignment

Hurdle not fretting Melancon's early woes

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates closer Mark Melancon suffered his first blown save of the year in Tuesday's 9-8 loss to the Cubs, giving up three hits, two walks and three runs in a messy ninth inning. It's the second three-run inning of the season for Melancon, who now has an 8.53 ERA.

Melancon was not available Wednesday, but manager Clint Hurdle said he will remain in the closer role.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kang's first extra-base hit, RBIs could boost confidence

After slump, shortstop clears bases with double in clutch situation

Kang's first extra-base hit, RBIs could boost confidence

PITTSBURGH -- In a baseball sense, it was the height of disrespect: In the seventh inning of a tied game Tuesday night, the Cubs chose to intentionally walk the man batting in front of Jung Ho Kang -- even though first base was already occupied.

The walk thus not only loaded the bases, but pushed a second runner into scoring position. Cubs manager Joe Maddon's strategy was rational. In his first 16 Major League at-bats, Kang hadn't yet hit a ball hard.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kang gets first Pirates RBIs, but Bucs fall

Kang gets first Pirates RBIs, but Bucs fall

PITTSBURGH -- Starlin Castro drove in four runs, two on a game-tying single in the ninth, and Welington Castillo's infield bouncer brought in the winning run Tuesday as the Cubs stormed back for a 9-8 win over the Pirates.

"When have we not played for nine innings?" Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm really proud of our guys. They all did their jobs and are playing at a high level mentally and physically."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Melancon has rough ninth inning in loss to Cubs

After disappointing showing from relievers, closer continues troubling trend

Melancon has rough ninth inning in loss to Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- Jared Hughes regarded the night's box score and just shook his head: Four relief pitchers out of the Pirates' highly-regarded bullpen picked up starter Francisco Liriano; each allowed runs, a total of six toward the 9-8 loss to the Cubs.

"You know what they say about being a relief pitcher," Hughes said. "You've got to have a short memory."

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs lineup vs. Cubs missing one-third of regulars

Rodriguez, Hart added to face Cubs' Wood with Mercer recovering

Bucs lineup vs. Cubs missing one-third of regulars

PITTSBURGH -- The Bucs went out Tuesday night to try to even their series with the Cubs by countering something new -- the first left-handed starter to face them this season, Travis Wood -- with something different.

Manager Clint Hurdle's starting lineup lacked one-third of his regulars. One was by necessity -- Jordy Mercer, still on the rebound from Sunday's pitch off his chest, stayed put and was again replaced at short by Jung Ho Kang.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates struggle with bats in loss to Cubs

Pirates struggle with bats in loss to Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- Rookie Kris Bryant drove in three runs and hustled to score another on an error, leading the Cubs to a 5-2 win over the Pirates on Monday night at PNC Park.

Once Jake Arrieta escaped a first-inning jam thanks to some sharp fielding, including his own, he didn't allow another baserunner until a two-out double in the sixth inning by Andrew McCutchen -- who also hit an RBI single in the first. Arrieta struck out seven without issuing a walk.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fan struck by foul tip released from hospital

Fan struck by foul tip released from hospital

PITTSBURGH -- The fan struck Monday night by a foul ball at PNC Park was released from the hospital where she had been taken for examinations, according to an update provided by the Pirates.

The club's statement on Tuesday:

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates lament being limited to 1 run in first

RBI single by McCutchen all Pittsburgh can muster off Cubs' Arrieta

Pirates lament being limited to 1 run in first

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates already knew, as does everyone around baseball, that if you let a good pitcher off an early hook, you are done fishing. They did not need a demonstration.

Nevertheless, the Bucs got a vivid one Monday at the outset of their 5-2 loss to the Cubs.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.