It took a long time to bring Andrew McCutchen to the plate in the bottom of the 12th inning.
It took tiebreaking hits, several stranded runners, the emptying of the bench and the bullpen, two strikeouts from a kid making his major league debut and a nifty, 3-6-3 double play.
McCutchen took his time in the at-bat, as well, but sent a 3-2 pitch toward the foul pole in left field.
Gone? McCutchen said he wasn't sure at first.
"The longer I watched it, the better our chances got," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
It had enough, and McCutchen's second walk-off home run of his career gave the Pirates a 3-2 win Wednesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks at PNC Park.
Game: Pirates vs. Diamondbacks, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
TV, radio: Root Sports, WPGB-FM (104.7).
Pitching: RHP Jeff Karstens (3-4, 3.30) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (4-1, 1.25).
Key matchup: The Pirates vs. an unfamiliar pitcher. Collmenter has not faced the Pirates and has won three of his past four decisions.
Of note: Karstens took a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field in 2008, his only start against them.
"Slider, little in, little down," McCutchen said.
The win moved the Pirates to 30-30, the first time they have been .500 since May 10, when they were 18-18.
"We're .500; that's about the significance," Hurdle said.
McCutchen might not have had that 12th-inning at-bat if not for the pitching of Tony Watson, a left-hander appearing in his first major league game. Hurdle brought him in with two men on in the eighth and Chris Young, the Diamondbacks' right-handed cleanup hitter, at the plate. Watson struck out Young and Juan Miranda to end the inning, bringing the 14,015 fans to their feet.
"It was as good as you could want from the guy," Hurdle said.
The double play that ended the 11th inning also made sure McCutchen had a chance to win it for the Pirates. With men on first and third, Kelly Johnson grounded to Lyle Overbay at first. Overbay threw to Ronny Cedeno at second, who threw back to Overbay to end the inning. Overbay said thinking ahead to the situation and knowing the baserunners helped him turn it.
Also ... "He hit it hard enough," Overbay said.
The Pirates had a chance in the 11th, when Brandon Wood singled and Jose Tabata's single, his fourth hit of the game, moved Wood to third with two outs, but Xavier Paul flied to left to end the inning.
The Pirates fell behind in the top half of the 10th. Kelly Johnson singled to lead off the inning. Pitcher Ian Kennedy pinch-hit and bunted Johnson to second, and Stephen Drew singled to center to score Johnson and give the Diamondbacks a 2-1 lead.
But McCutchen doubled down the right-field line off J.J. Putz in the bottom of 10th, and Neil Walker singled up the middle to score McCutchen with the tying run.
The Pirates led, 1-0, entering the eighth, but reliever Jose Veras walked pinch-hitter Johnson, who advanced to second on Willie Bloomquist's sacrifice bunt. Drew singled to center and scored Johnson to make it 1-1.
Veras hit Justin Upton in the back with a 95 mph fastball, dropping him to the ground momentarily before he took first. Then, Watson took over.
"I just wanted to keep our team in it and give us a chance to win," said Watson, whose father, sister and girlfriend were in town for the game.
Joel Hanrahan pitched a perfect ninth.
Paul Maholm pitched six scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out four. He retired the side in order in the second and third, the only hit through those innings coming on a single from Young in the fourth.
"I threw some good sinkers, some good changeups, I threw inside well," Maholm said.
Chris Snyder left the game after the second inning due to pain in his lower back, the same injury he had early in the season. He slid into second trying to stretch a single into a double and came out of the game after that.
Dusty Brown replaced him. Class AAA Indianapolis catcher Jason Jaramillo is on the 40-man roster, but is on the minor-league disabled list. If the Pirates were to call up a catcher, they could recall Wyatt Toregas from Indianapolis. The Pirates have one free spot on the 40-man roster.
The Pirates already are short at catcher: Ryan Doumit is on the 15-day disabled list because of a broken left ankle.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published June 9, 2011 5:00 AM