Pirates fall to Rockies, 6-4

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DENVER -- Through five innings Saturday night, the fans that waited out the rain delay at Coors Field watched a tight baseball game. Good pitching on each side, some runners left on base and timely hitting dominated the contest.

That game went into a tailspin once the sixth inning rolled around. The Pirates proceeded to lose their lead, their leadoff hitter and their manager in the span of two innings where nothing went right.

The Colorado Rockies' two-out rally in the sixth launched them to a 6-4 win and gave the Pirates their second loss in a row.

Starling Marte took a pitch off his left hand on a check swing in the seventh inning and left the game. He had an ice pack on it in the clubhouse after the game, but said X-rays showed no fractures and he had only a bruise.

Later in the inning, manager Clint Hurdle got himself ejected arguing with second-base umpire Adrian Johnson after a double play.

"I wouldn't have gone out there if I didn't think [Alex Presley] was safe," said Hurdle, who after viewing the replay acknowledged Johnson made the right call.

The Pirates maintained a four-game lead in the NL Central over the St. Louis Cardinals, who lost their fourth consecutive game Saturday. They are 4-13 since July 26.

Until the sixth, A.J. Burnett pitched well, but he allowed four consecutive batters to reach base in the decisive inning. Burnett (5-8) allowed six runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"You leave balls over the plate and they hit them," Burnett said. "That's just what happens."

Burnett put men on base in every inning until the fifth, when he retired the top of the lineup in order. He struck out Troy Tulowitzki looking on a fastball to end the inning, causing Tulowitzki to argue with home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth before taking the field.

Michael Cuddyer singled and took second base on a deep fly ball to center in the sixth. Nolan Arenado's double scored Cuddyer. Jonathan Herrera, whom Burnett has not retired in six plate appearances, walked. Pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon doubled, scoring one run and putting men on second and third.

"He still had pitches to work with," Hurdle said of leaving Burnett in against Blackmon.

"I liked the matchup. I like A.J. pitching."

Dexter Fowler's single scored two runs, and Hurdle replaced Burnett with Tony Watson. Corey Dickerson sliced a single to left. Fowler tried for third, and as Pedro Alvarez scooped Marte's throw, Fowler's right foot nailed Alvarez's gloved left hand to knock the ball loose. Fowler scored to give the Rockies a 6-3 lead.

Alvarez appeared to be in pain, but after the trainers inspected his hand he stayed in the game. Hurdle said Fowler's spike caught Alvarez on his left index finger.

Garrett Jones gave the Pirates the lead in the top of the sixth. After Russell Martin singled with two outs for his third hit of the game, Jones roped a line drive that went past Fowler. Martin scored and Jones had a triple. Jose Tabata's infield single scored Jones, and the Pirates led 3-1.

Tabata's hit forced Juan Nicasio from the game. Nicasio allowed three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

The Rockies put men on third base in each of the first three innings, but scored in only one of them. Todd Helton doubled in the second and advanced on a weak ground ball. Herrera singled past a diving Jones at first, and the Rockies led 1-0.

Walking Andrew McCutchen burned Nicasio in the fourth. McCutchen took off on a 3-2 pitch to Martin, whose double to the gap in right-center reached the wall. McCutchen scored, tying the game at 1-1.

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Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published August 11, 2013 5:15 AM


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