Pedro Alvarez, left, rounds third after tying the score with a solo home run in the seventh inning Wednesday.
By Michael Sanserino Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PHOENIX -- After starting a West Coast road trip -- perhaps their toughest of the season -- with five consecutive losses, it could not have ended much better for the Pirates.
By taking two of three from the defending National League West champion Arizona Diamondbacks, the Pirates recorded their first series win at Chase Field since 2005 and showed progress in a season that started on shaky ground.
"This is a huge way for us to end this road trip with how it started," second baseman Neil Walker said. "That says a lot about this team because we feel like this is going to be one of the tougher road trips we have all year."
Walker drove in the winning run with a bloop single with two outs in the eighth as the Pirates beat the Diamondbacks, 2-1, Wednesday afternoon. It was a bit of justice for Walker, who has seen many sharply hit balls land in leather.
How they scored
Diamondbacks first: Bloomquist tripled to right. Hill lined out to second baseman Walker. Kubel singled to center, Bloomquist scored. M.Montero walked on a full count, Kubel to second. Roberts flied out to center fielder McCutchen, Kubel to third. Overbay flied out to left fielder Presley. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Diamondbacks 1, Pirates 0.
Pirates seventh: McGehee flied out to center fielder Pollock. G.Jones struck out. P.Alvarez homered to right on a 2-0 count. McKenry struck out. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left on. Pirates 1, Diamondbacks 1.
Pirates eighth: J.Harrison pinch-hitting for Lincoln. J.Harrison flied out to right fielder Kubel. Presley struck out. Barmes singled to center. McCutchen singled to center, Barmes to second. D.Hernandez pitching. Walker singled to right, Barmes scored, McCutchen to third. McGehee fouled out to catcher M.Montero. 1 run, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 left on. Pirates 2, Diamondbacks 1.
"When you break your bat and drive in a run to win the game, that is kind of sweet retribution for a lot of the balls you hit hard that are caught," Walker said. "It's the way it goes sometimes."
Pitcher Brad Lincoln, recalled from Class AAA Indianapolis hours earlier to replaced the injured Jeff Karstens, earned the win in relief, pitching three scoreless innings. He got a phone call at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, telling him to pack his bags. Five hours and not a wink of sleep later, Lincoln was on a US Airways flight from Indianapolis to Phoenix.
"It was definitely a long night for me," said Lincoln, who got a couple hours of sleep on his cross-country flight. "But that's part of the job. You've got to come in, get your mind right and be prepared for the game, regardless of the circumstances."
Lincoln gave up one hit and struck out four, while walking three. He likely will start in Karstens' place Monday against the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park.
The Pirates (5-7) earned their second series win in four tries this season.
Pedro Alvarez hit his second home run of the season, scorching a 2-0 changeup into the Pirates bullpen in right field to tie the score, 1-1, in the seventh inning. Alvarez has hit two of the team's six home runs this season, tied with Garrett Jones. But the two homers are Alvarez's only hits.
After using five of their seven bullpen arms Tuesday night -- to compensate for an early injury to Karstens -- the Pirates needed starter James McDonald to eat some innings Wednesday. But he threw 33 pitches in the first inning and gave up a leadoff triple to Willie Bloomquist, who scored on a single by Jason Kubel. The Pirates have surrendered at least one first-inning run in seven of their 12 games this season, including the three games against the Diamondbacks.
"We haven't managed the first inning very well as a staff coming out of the season," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's not everybody, but overall, we've got to do a better job in the first inning. You set the tempo for the game in the first inning."