SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew McCutchen went 4-for-5 to pace a lively offense that gave the Pittsburgh Pirates their 10th victory in 12 games, a 7-4 decision Tuesday night over the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants, baseball's hottest team until recently, lost their fourth consecutive game, though they became only the second team this year to score as many as four earned runs off A.J. Burnett. The Pirates starter lasted five innings as his ERA rose from 1.81 to 2.20.
The run support that enabled Burnett to win his sixth straight start at least made up for the no-decisions he was getting in 2-0 and 2-1 games in April.
"You can pitch well and lose, and pitch like I did tonight and still win," Burnett said. "That's the way it goes, and why I'll never complain about the support I'm getting."
McCutchen's RBI single opened the scoring for the Pirates in a four-run, third-inning outburst against Giants starter Chris Heston. Pedro Alvarez added a two-run double as the Pirates batted around.
"I needed to be able to slow myself down, take a step back a little bit and go back to attacking guys," said Heston, who has gone to extremes all season. He has surrendered five or more earned runs in five starts and one or zero earned runs in the other six.
Jordy Mercer homered in the fifth inning and McCutchen added a run-scoring double in the sixth to help fend off the Giants.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Alvarez pulls a fast one: Alvarez is a pull hitter by reputation, as evidenced by the infield shift teams continue to stage against him, but is turning into a push hitter by deed. He added to his growing list of clutch hits to left field with a two-run double in the third that put the Bucs up, 4-2. Alvarez added a single to the identical spot off left-hander Jeremy Affeldt in the seventh.
"That was a big one, to hit the ball hard into the corner," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He let the ball travel to him, put the barrel to it. It was impressive to watch. He continues to find ways to make that subtle adjustment from time to time and hit that pitch away from him hard."
Dinger decision: Even the video replay gurus struggled to determine whether Brandon Crawford's third-inning drive to left field was a home run. A fan reached down to catch the ball, prompting the Pirates to suggest that the ball wouldn't have cleared the barrier on its own. After a prolonged review, the ruling was that the call on the field stands, resulting in a two-run homer for Crawford and a temporary 4-4 tie.
"When we came in, that was our intent. They're a good team. We believe we have a good team." -- Hurdle, on taking a road series from the World Series champion Giants, whose October journey began with a win over the Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game.
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After his 28th appearance in the Pirates' 52nd game, Tony Watson is on pace for 87 games this season. That would comfortably be a personal high, topping last season's 78, but would fall short of the club record of 94 shared by Kent Tekulve (1979) and Salomon Torres (2006).
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates:Francisco Liriano faces the Giants in the series finale at 3:45 p.m. ET in AT&T Park -- optimal conditions for the lefty, who is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA in day games (0-4 and 5.29 at night) and has a 1.57 ERA in five road starts.
Giants: With a left-hander starting for Pittsburgh in Wednesday's 12:45 p.m. PT series finale, Giants manager Bruce Bochy must decide whether to rest left-handed batters Crawford and Joe Panik. Both thrive against southpaws. Crawford's hitting .447 (17-for-38) and Panik's batting .361 (13-for-36) off lefties.