McCutchen's homer in ninth holds off 20th consecutive losing season
Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen is greeted at home after hitting a walk-off homer against the Reds in the ninth inning Saturday night at PNC Park.
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For at least one more day, Andrew McCutchen kept the Pirates' hopes of a .500 season alive.
McCutchen hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday night to give the Pirates a 2-1 win against the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park, moving the Pirates' record to 77-81.
The win postponed the Pirates' 20th consecutive losing season, which they will clinch with their 82nd loss. The Pirates must win their final four games to finish at exactly .500 and end the streak of 19 consecutive losing seasons.
"It definitely felt good," McCutchen said. "I started feeling better throughout the course of the game, wasn't getting anything to show for it. To get a hit in that fashion definitely felt good."
McCutchen lined a 2-2 fastball off Jonathan Broxton into the seats in right-center field for his 31st home run with one out in the ninth.
McCutchen's average fell to .329 after his 1 for 5 night, but he said he isn't paying attention to San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, the man he must catch to win the NL batting title.
"We can look at that at the end of the season," he said.
The Pirates won in September for only the seventh time.
The Pirates walked off for the seventh time this season, the third time with a home run, and McCutchen hit his third walk-off home run.
The game remained scoreless until the seventh, when the Pirates finally scored, but the Reds tied the game in the eighth. Joel Hanrahan earned the win.
Clint Barmes singled in the seventh and went to second when Jose Arredondo threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt. Brock Holt's bunt moved Barmes to third, and Chase d'Arnaud pinch-ran for him. Alex Presley doubled to left-center field to drive in the run and give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
Presley said Arredondo's fastball and splitter start on the same plane, making it difficult to lay off pitches low in the zone, but he got what he was looking for this time.
"Best-case scenario, it falls," Presley said. "Worst case, sac fly, and we still score."
The Reds tied the score in the eighth after pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick's leadoff double off Jason Grilli. Pinch-runner Denis Phipps went to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Zack Cozart struck out. Grilli intentionally walked Joey Votto with two outs to face Scott Rolen, who singled home the run.
Kyle McPherson assembled the best of his three starts. He allowed two ground-ball singles to start the game, but did not allow another hit until the fifth.
"I think there's more there, but that's the guy we're talking about," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He pitched inside extremely well also. He did a much better job of that tonight, getting strikes in there, getting outs in there, as well as getting balls off the plate just to move people's feet."
McPherson lasted 41/3 innings in each of his first two starts this season. He allowed two runs on seven hits in the first outing, four runs on four hits and three walks in the second. His 94 pitches surpassed his previous high of 83, which he threw Monday against the New York Mets.
"To pitch six complete up here, after what he'd been through his first few starts, big step forward," Hurdle said.
McPherson displayed the stuff that has the Pirates considering him for the starting rotation next season. Hurdle has said that McPherson will have the chance to compete for the job in spring training, and there appear to be openings in the five rotation spots for 2013.
"I'm looking forward to next year, and I'm hoping to turn some heads along the way," McPherson said.
McPherson allowed four hits and a walk in six scoreless innings, striking out five.
After those two singles in the first, Votto grounded out, advancing the runners to second and third. Rolen popped out, and, with Jay Bruce at the plate, pitching coach Ray Searage visited McPherson.
"He came out there just to slow the game down a little bit and give me a breather," McPherson said. "Don't have to be too fine with that guy in the box. If I wind up walking him, that's OK."
McPherson attacked Bruce, who grounded out to short to end the inning.
First Published September 30, 2012 12:00 am