Late home runs propel Pirates to 9-1 win over Twins


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Andrew McCutchen is no longer the only horse pulling his weight on the Pirates' offensive wagon. The rest of the lineup began pitching in during the month of June.

Thursday night, though, McCutchen's abilities were on full display.

He roped line drives to the gaps, sped around the bases and created early offense for the Pirates in their 9-1 win against the Minnesota Twins at PNC Park.

A barrage of home runs in the later innings put the game out of reach and helped the Pirates win the series against the Twins. Rod Barajas homered in the sixth, and Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez each left the yard in the seventh.

The Pirates also received another stellar outing from James McDonald, who has made a habit of these performances this season. He pitched the first complete game of his major league career.

McCutchen went 3 for 4 with a double and a triple and scored two runs. In the first, he lined a ball into right-center field that sailed past the glove of a diving Ben Revere and ended up on third. Alexi Casilla dived to stop Jones' ground ball, but had no play, and McCutchen scored to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

McCutchen roped another extra-base hit in the second, this one with grave consequences. Josh Harrison had singled with one out, but McDonald's bunt plopped right in front of the plate, allowing Ryan Doumit to throw out Harrison at second. Alex Presley singled up the middle. Neil Walker grounded to short, but Brian Dozier bobbled it, and his error loaded the bases.

McCutchen cleared them with a double to the gap in left-center, giving the Pirates a 4-0 lead.

As the runs piled up for the offense, McDonald piled up outs. He worked efficiently through the Twins' lineup with good breaking balls and rarely found himself in trouble. After fielding a ground ball from Ben Revere and sprinting to step on first base himself to end the eighth inning, the crowd of 21,563 recognized his efforts with hearty applause.

McDonald has two four-inning outings on his resume this season, yet has not allowed more than three earned runs in any game this season.

Alvarez singled in the sixth before Barajas hit his seventh home run, extending the Pirates' lead to 6-1. Hendriks hung a 1-1 curveball that Barajas hit out to left-center field.

That was it for Hendriks, who allowed six runs -- three earned -- on eight hits in five-plus innings.

Garrett Jones hit a laser beam over the wall in right field for his eighth, a two-run shot that scored McCutchen, and Alvarez followed with his 13th shortly after. He crushed a breaking ball low and inside that bounced off the railing at the top of the seats in right field and out of the ballpark.

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Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG.


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