DENVER -- Just when it seemed Erik Bedard's season was falling apart, a 10-day break and some behind-the-scenes adjustments helped him put it back together.
For one night, at least.
Bedard pitched his best outing in more than a month as the Pirates beat the Rockies, 6-2, Tuesday night at Coors Field, a notorious hitter's ballpark.
"Starting the second half in Colorado is not what I wanted," Bedard said, "but the results came out good. We'll build on that."
He allowed two runs, one earned, on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings as to earn his fifth win of the season and snap a streak of five consecutive losses in games that the left-hander has started.
It was his sixth quality start of the season in 18 outings and his first win since May 8, when the Pirates beat the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, at PNC Park.
"Erik has a lot of personal pride," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Always has. And the one thing about him, what you see on the outside doesn't necessarily equate to what's going on inside. He's a fierce competitor out there. He's a man that's connected to his craft and wants to do well."
After a strong start to the year, Bedard, the Pirates' opening day starter, posted a 7.39 ERA in June and July entering Tuesday. He hasn't pitched past the fifth inning in half of his starts this season and hadn't completed five innings in four of his past seven starts entering Tuesday.
That prompted Pirates Hurdle to push Bedard to the end of a reshuffled pitching rotation, allowing him time to work on a few fixes that Hurdle and pitching coach Ray Searage identified. A veteran, Bedard was eager to try and figure out what was wrong with his performance.
"Just an experienced guy trying to tighten some things up," Hurdle said. "Not overreacting, but just reacting."
Hurdle said the key to Bedard's outing Tuesday was his ability to have a consistent release point, which allowed him to get all of his pitches in play. During his time down, Bedard threw two bullpen sessions with Searage and got a little extra rest.
"The rest always helps, made me feel a little stronger," Bedard said.
On Tuesday, he struck out four pitches and was buoyed by a big-breaking curveball that he threw for strikes. He walked four batters but threw 60 of his 94 pitches for strikes.
He left the game after loading the bases in the seventh, which put the tying run on first base. But Jared Hughes got Michael Cuddyer to fly out to centerfield on a full count to end the thread.
Andrew McCutchen hit his 22nd home run of the season -- and his longest home run of the season -- putting him one shy of last season's total, a career high.
McCutchen turned on a 1-1 slider in the fourth and belted a high-flying ball that soared above the mile-high mark at Coors Field, six rows from the top of the stadium, before gravity pulled it down.
The ball barely stayed in fair territory, but it cleared a utility tunnel and bounced around the concourse in left field, 442 feet away from home plate as the Pirates (50-40) tied the score, 1-1.
It was one of the hardest hit balls McCutchen can remember.
"That was a pretty good shot," he said. "A homer's a homer, though."
They ran away with the game in the fifth inning, piling four runs to turn a one-run deficit into a three-run lead and chase Rockies starter Christian Friedrich from the game.
Friedrich issued a pair of walks to start the inning, and after retiring the next two batters, he surrendered three consecutive singles as the Pirates surged ahead, 5-2. The inning featured nine Pirates batters and four hits -- all singles.
Friedrich, a rookie, lasted 4 2/3 innings and allowed five earned runs on seven hits with three walks and two strikeouts. He took the loss, his seventh of the season.
The Rockies (35-55) grabbed a brief lead in the bottom of the fourth. Bedard walked Wilin Rosario to start the inning, and Josh Rutledge followed with a triple that landed down the right-field line and rolled around in the corner before Drew Sutton corralled it.
Alex Presley's second error of the season allowed the Rockies to claim a 1-0 lead in the third inning. With two outs and Marco Scutaro on third, Cuddyer hit a tailing fly ball toward the gap in left-centerfield. Presley chased it down, but when he tried to backhand the ball, it glanced off the outside of his glove and fell to the grass.
The error allowed Scutaro to score from third and Cuddyer to reach second.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino. First Published July 18, 2012 4:15 AM