PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has an expression for the "gamer" attitude his players use to overcome their own rash of mistakes to post the Majors' third best record: "So what? Now what?"
The Pirates played their ultimate "So what? Now what?" game Sunday night, downing the Giants, 5-2, despite a series of physical and mental errors in the middle innings. After two fielding errors by first baseman Pedro Alvarez and a throwing error by second baseman Neil Walker gifted the Giants with two runs to trim the Bucs' lead to 3-2, homers by Andrew McCutchen in the sixth and Alvarez in the seventh restored order.
"We've had enough experience as a team to be resilient," said Hurdle, referring to the club's 90 errors and 51 unearned runs allowed. "But there will be days they will burn you. You will not always come out on the other side of it. But you've still gotta play forward, and rip off the rearview mirror."
With their ninth win in 11 games, the Pirates remained within 3 1/2 games of National League Central-leading St. Louis. Despite three losses in the four game series, the Giants gained a half-game on the NL West-leading Dodgers, returning home 1 1/2 games out.
Francisco Liriano allowed the two unearned runs in 5 1/3 innings for his fifth consecutive victory on Sunday. The Bucs have won the left-hander's last 10 starts since June 26.
Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong kept the Bucs off the scoreboard after a three-run first, but he remained shaky and lasted only 3 1/3 innings. He allowed seven hits and issued four walks.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Alvarez, McCutchen provide pop: Most of the Bucs' first-inning 3-0 lead was gone by the time the bottom of the sixth rolled around. Then McCutchen hit his 19th homer with two outs in the sixth, and Alvarez connected for his 20th in the seventh.
"Both of those guys were looking for pitches out over the plate, and when they got pitches up, they didn't miss them," Hurdle said.
Ground ruled: Down, 4-2, with two outs in the seventh, the Giants had the go-ahead run at the plate after Andrew Susac walked and Brandon Crawford laced a ground-rule double, but Brandon Belt flied out to center. San Francisco was a bit unlucky that Crawford's shot to the gap in left-center bounced into the stands. Susac was moving on the pitch and easily would have reached home, but he was directed back to third base after the ball went out of play.
"That's a run. Not much you can do with that. It's a pretty good situation, with Belt coming off the bench there. That's a big run at that point," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. More >
Liriano picks up his infield: After Walker's error in the fifth inning put runners on first and third with one out, and an error by Alvarez let one run in while leaving two men on base, Liriano fanned Susac and retired Crawford on a comebacker to keep the Pirates' 3-1 lead.
"At the end of the night, he could have gotten out of there without giving up a run," Hurdle said of the veteran lefty. "Talk about a man showing grit on the mound, rolling his sleeves up, getting some things done in the dirt. He was able to do that off the mound for us tonight."
Duffy drives a few: The Giants struggled to plate runs when afforded opportune situations, but third baseman Matt Duffy did his part. Not only did he score one of the club's runs, but he also knocked three hits -- his seventh multi-hit game of the month.
"The season doesn't stop. It's all about now. That's what helps us as much as anything we do: We're focused on the game we're playing today, not who we're playing, or where we're playing." -- Hurdle, shrugging off the Pirates reaching 26 games over .500, matching their 2013 finish (94-68) for the franchise's loftiest status since the final day of the 1992 season (96-66)
"If you think you're a contending club, and we surely do, that's what you face." -- Bochy, on tough opposing pitching this road trip
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pitching at PNC Park has not been fun for Vogelsong. After his rough outing on Sunday, the former Pirates right-hander is 6-14 in 55 appearances (21 starts) in Pittsburgh with a 6.10 ERA (112 earned runs in 165 1/3 innings).
This was the fifth season in a row MLB's reigning World Series champs were on the Pirates' schedule, and they have played .632 (24-14) ball against those teams, including 6-1 this season against the Giants. The Bucs were 3-0 against the Red Sox in 2014, 4-3 against the Giants in '13, 8-7 against the Cardinals in '12 and 3-3 against the Giants in '11.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the top of the sixth inning, Giants first baseman Buster Posey grounded into an inning-ending double play, but San Francisco challenged the out call at first base. After a review of two minutes and six seconds, the call of the field was allowed to stand as the replay official could not determine whether Posey's foot touched the base prior to the ball reaching the back of first baseman Alvarez's glove.
Jung Ho Kang legged out a ground ball and reached first base safely in the seventh inning, with Posey's foot seemingly coming off the bag. But after a crew-chief review, the call on the field was overturned, deeming Kang out.
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: The Giants open a six-game homestand at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday, with Matt Cain facing Jake Arrieta and the Cubs. Cain is 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his last six home starts against Chicago.
Pirates: As the Bucs hit the road for another four-game set, lefty J.A. Happ is due to face Miami on Monday night at 7:10 p.m. ET at Marlins Park. This series is the Pirates' last against National League East competition. They are 21-8 against that division.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.