Pirates hold off Phillies' late surge, win 11-7

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies put their bullpen on a silver platter Wednesday night, and the Pirates settled in for a feast.

As the night went on, the Pirates bullpen joined in the fun.

A doubleheader Sunday threw off the Phillies rotation, and, lacking good options in the minor leagues, they marched their relievers into the game for short bursts. The Pirates took advantage, halting a three-game losing streak with an 11-7 win at Citizens Bank Park.

"They didn't give up, we didn't give up," said Andrew McCutchen, who went 2 for 5 with a key two-run homer in the eighth. "We just had to keep pushing, and we kept pushing."

The Phillies bullpen had a 4.46 ERA before the game, the sixth-worst mark in the majors. "Starter" Raul Valdes and Joe Savery allowed a combined eight runs, seven hits and four walks.

"You may not see the same guy twice," McCutchen said. "That's why you're just trying to stay within yourself, stay up the middle of the field and just take it inning by inning."

The Pirates overcame an early Phillies lead, but the Phillies returned the fire, scoring five runs in the sixth and seventh. They climbed back to within a run until Brad Lincoln, who only recently moved back to the bullpen, regained control, striking out two and stranding two runners in the seventh.

Michael McKenry, who started his second consecutive game while Rod Barajas rests the bone bruise in his left knee, homered for the second game in a row, hitting a 3-2 pitch to left that also scored Neil Walker and Jose Tabata to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead in the second.

"Nobody's talking about him, now everybody's talking about him," manager Clint Hurdle said.

"It's good, because of how hard he works and the professional job he does even when he's not in the lineup."

McKenry, pressed into service for Barajas after the first inning Monday, has gone 7 for 11 with two home runs in the first three games of the series.

The Pirates scored two runs in the fourth, one of them a homer from Casey McGehee, and three more in the fifth when they sent eight men to the plate.

James McDonald (7-3) surrendered two first-inning home runs but prevented the Phillies from doing much else until the sixth. He allowed four runs on six hits in 52/3 innings, marking the first time he had allowed more than three runs in a game this season.

"Fastball got me by today," McDonald said. "My fastball was decent, other than my fastball I didn't really have a go-to pitch."

Chase Utley homered in his first at-bat this season. Utley spent the better part of three months on the disabled list because of bilateral chondromalacia or pain in both knees caused by a cartilage issue, but the Phillies activated Utley before the game.

Carlos Ruiz, who has tortured Pirates pitching this series, followed Utley with his 11th homer, giving the Phillies a 2-0 lead. Ruiz wound up going 2 for 4.

Jared Hughes did his part to keep the game interesting.

After Hector Luna reached first on Pedro Alvarez's error in the seventh, Hughes allowed an RBI triple to Jimmy Rollins that cut the score to 8-5.

Tony Watson replaced him and allowed consecutive singles to Juan Pierre and Utley that scored a run and brought Ruiz to the plate with two on and no outs.

Ruiz lined a ball to right that Tabata allowed to drop in front of him, scoring Pierre and cutting the lead to 8-7.

"We gave them six outs in one inning," Hurdle said. "We're lucky to get out with three runs."

Lincoln, the third Pirates pitcher in the seventh, struck out Hunter Pence by pounding him with sliders, got Shane Victorino to fly out and blew a 95 mph fastball by pinch-hitter Jim Thome to end the inning and strand the runners.

"That was fun," McKenry said of the Thome at-bat.

"That was a lot of fun. He hit his spot perfectly. We actually had the whole sequence planned out before we even started the at-bat. It was funny that it happened exactly how we talked about it."

The Pirates' final burst of offense -- three runs off Chad Qualls in the eighth -- allowed them to close the door.

Alex Presley, pinch-hitting for Lincoln, walked, took second on a groundout and scored on Drew Sutton's double.

Then, McCutchen struck his two-run homer.


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


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