PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen was back in the Pirates' lineup on Sunday night, after missing his first game of the season to allow a sore left foot to make a remarkable recovery.
"I'm ready to go, to try to keep this momentum going," said McCutchen, alluding to the four-game winning streak the Bucs took into the series finale against the Cardinals. "Go out there and try to get another win."
McCutchen had tweaked the foot when landing awkwardly following a futile leap at the center-field fence for Allen Craig's fourth-inning homer in Friday night's game. He completed that game, but was convinced to take Saturday's off.
"I didn't even want to take that off. Whatever I can do to help the team and not hurt myself, I guess," McCutchen said.
"He never likes to [miss a game]," manager Clint Hurdle saidd, "but another area in which he has grown and matured is understanding the bigger picture. We had a very good conversation in [my office] and we all felt it was best to do what we did."
Given McCutchen's attitude, little thought was given to having him also sit Sunday night which, with the off-day on Monday, would have given him three straight days' rest.
"He went through a battery of tests, and things he wasn't capable of doing [Saturday] he is today," Hurdle said. "He's, 'If I can go, I want to go.' Last night, there wasn't really a 'Go' button to go to. He feels there is today."
Competing well enough to take down St. Louis, 4-3, on Saturday without their Most Valuable Player -- and even with other factors forcing infielders Gaby Sanchez and Jordy Mercer into outfield play -- gave the Bucs an unexpected boost.
"When you can get through a game like that, it shows the other guys and [McCutchen] what they're capable of without him in the lineup. A lot of good stuff can come from it."
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.