Mike Fiers was the only option Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had in his bullpen as the game reached the 12th inning Tuesday night.
In came Fiers to face Andrew McCutchen, leading off the top of the 12th. Shortly thereafter, McCutchen was rounding third, his teammates gathered at the plate, after his walk-off home run gave the Pirates a 4-3 win Tuesday night at PNC Park.
McCutchen entered the game 4 for 8 with two home runs against Fiers in his career. He hit Fiers' 2-2 fastball out to right-center field for his fifth home run this season.
McCutchen was flying around the bases and nearing second when the ball cleared the wall, unsure of whether he hit it hard enough after flying out to the warning track earlier.
"I hit the crap out of the ball, and they went nowhere [earlier]," he said. "Right off my bat, I didn't know."
He accepted his fate during the postgame television interview, opening his arms wide and inviting the inevitable pie in the face from A.J. Burnett.
The win came on a night when the Pirates went 0 for 15 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 men on base.
Vin Mazzaro (2-0) earned the win with two scoreless innings of relief. Fiers (0-2) took the loss.
The Pirates had a runner in scoring position in the 10th. Pedro Alvarez reached on a fielder's choice and took second on a wild pitch, but was stranded there.
Trailing, 3-2, in the eighth, the Pirates tied the score against John Axford. Neil Walker flared a single to left. Alvarez struck out, but Russell Martin doubled down the left-field line.
"It felt great," Martin said. "It gave us an opportunity to win the game. Every other night, it seems like somebody's coming through with a big hit late in the game to come back. There's a lot of fight in this team. We never feel like we're out of a game."
Third-base coach Rick Sofield, filling in for Nick Leyva, sent Walker. A good throw probably would have caught him at the plate, but Jean Segura's relay throw sailed high of catcher Martin Maldonado and Walker was safe.
"He pretty much had to send me there in that situation in the game," Walker said. "I took a peek in the left-field corner about three quarters of the way to third and I said, 'This is going to be really close. I know this is going to be bang-bang.' "
Jason Grilli struck out the side in the top of the ninth.
"After we scored in the eighth, I wanted an absolute stop in the ninth," manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates had a shot in the bottom half of the ninth as Jose Tabata doubled with one out off Alfredo Figaro, causing the Brewers to intentionally walk McCutchen. Garrett Jones grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Jeff Locke pitched well against a lineup featuring a few players who rank in the top five of several offensive categories this season.
He finished six innings and allowed three runs on seven hits, walking only one to go with six strikeouts. He threw two wild pitches that allowed a run to score.
In Locke's four starts before Tuesday, he allowed a combined 11 hits in 24 innings and had not allowed a home run.
Locke's wild pitches allowed the Brewers to take the lead in the fifth. Norichika Aoki's grounder hit Locke in the back of his lower right leg, putting Aoki on first. Hurdle and trainer Ben Potenziano came out to check Locke, but he stayed in.
Locke then threw two wild pitches, one a curveball in the dirt and the next an outside fastball, that put Aoki on third. Segura grounded out, but the run scored and the Brewers led, 3-1.
Home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth took a foul tip off his left shoulder in the 11th inning and was forced to leave the game. Second-base umpire Bill Welke took over behind the plate.
John McDonald, a late entry as part of a double switch, left the game in the 12th because of lower back pain.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG First Published May 15, 2013 3:30 AM