DENVER -- Andrew McCutchen achieved his second home run hat trick, including a crushing three-run shot in the sixth inning, and the Pirates went deep five times in a 9-4 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field on a cold, damp Tuesday night.
"It's awesome to hit one homer, but to hit three is really cool," McCutchen said after joining Hall of Famers Ralph Kiner, Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente as the only Pirates with multiple three-homer games. "To be in that caliber of players is tremendous. It's a good day to remember and something that doesn't always happen."
McCutchen, who also hit three homers against the Nationals on Aug. 1, 2009, knocked solo shots in the first and second off ineffective Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa (1-3), who also gave up a first-inning shot to David Freese. The Rockies had trimmed the lead to 4-3 in the fifth, before McCutchen's three-run blast off Christian Bergman in the sixth. The next batter, Starling Marte, homered off Gonzalez Germen.
McCutchen had a chance to become the first Pirate to go deep four times in one game, but he grounded out in the eighth.
Nearly lost behind McCutchen's pyrotechnics was a quality performance from Gerrit Cole, who allowed four runs (two earned) on eight hits in six innings. The early lead allowed him to be aggressive, challenging the Rockies with fastballs
"Perseverance, resilience, some guts," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He threw his fastball 72, 73 times out of 103 pitches. He said, "OK, old-fashioned baseball boys, here it is.' And he just kind of moved the fastball around -- up, down, in and out. It was fun to watch the young man go and do that. In this ballpark? That was impressive."
De La Rosa, who pitched just two innings at Cincinnati in his last start, lasted just three innings and gave up four runs on five hits and three walks before leaving with a left groin injury.
Nolan Arenado hit his eighth homer in the fourth. Arenado's two-out, bases-loaded RBI single in the fifth cut it to one run. But Marte prevented the Rockies from tying the game with his pinpoint throw to retire Gerardo Parra at the plate and keep Cole (2-2) in the lead.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Back-to-Buc: McCutchen broke out of his 3-for-23 slump and set the tone on his second swing of the night, a blast to left-center tracked at 439 by Statcast™ to put the Bucs on the scoreboard and spark a first-inning rally. When Freese homered on the next pitch for the second back-to-back Pirates homers of the season, it looked like a long night in the making for De La Rosa. Eight men batted in the inning, with the Bucs plating another run and establishing a lead they would not relinquish.
"I was a little leery looking at his numbers coming in here," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of McCutchen. "He's been struggling a little bit, and you know it's not going to last for long. Unfortunately, he's rolling again. But you knew it was a matter of time. We were hoping maybe he'd do it after they left town."
Their one shot: The Rockies loaded the bases against Cole with one out in the fifth, but Carlos Gonzalez fanned on a full-count, 96-mph fastball. Then came Arenado's single to left that scored Bergman before Marte's throw prevented the next run and possibly a much bigger inning.
"Nolan swung the bat well tonight," Weiss said. "Close play at the plate. I thought he might've got in there. I wasn't sure if the catcher had possession of the ball, too, on the tag, so I took a shot there at a replay. It didn't work out, but we fought back to one run down there and then got away from us."
Bergman solid, until ... Bergman threw 2 2/3 innings and Weiss was hoping he'd make it through the sixth, until McCutchen's two-out, opposite-field homer gave the Pirates a 7-3 lead. Bergman gave up three hits, struck out four and walked one.
"Obviously he was seeing the ball well tonight," said Bergman, whose pitch count of 51 built him up to the point that he would be a candidate for the rotation if De La Rosa ends up on the disabled list. "I think that pitch caught a little too much of the plate and he did what he did with it."
"I tip my cap after every homer. Every time I come up to bat it's for my wife. Every time I do it, it's for her. And the reason I do that is because Jackie Robinson used to do that for his wife. Before he'd come up to bat, he'd tip his cap to his wife." -- McCutchen, on his practice of tipping his cap when he goes deep
"There was a tipping point tonight -- no bigger play tonight than Marte throwing out the guy at home plate. You look at the momentum switch. It's a 4-3 ballgame. It would be a 4-4 ballgame if the throw's not on line. We score four the next inning and create separation. It's a huge playmaker right there." -- Hurdle, on Marte nailing Parra at the plate
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Pirates' win streak at Coors Field has reached seven games, dating to July 27, 2014. The Bucs have hit six homers in the first two games of the series. Before enjoying the Rocky Mountain atmosphere, the Pirates had 11 homers in their first 18 games.
MERCER MAKES HIS MARK Jordy Mercer became the first visitor to hit the newly heightened right-field fence at Coors. Six Rockies have hit the 16-foot, 9-inch fence -- raised 8 feet, 6 inches over the offseason -- in the first 10 home games. Mercer hit it on the fly to lead off the fourth for a standup double. He was stranded at second after a grounder to third and two strikeouts. In previous seasons, his blast would have landed in the Rockies bullpen for a homer.
Weiss challenged Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli's tag on Parra after the throw from Marte, on the basis that Cervelli bobbled the ball. However, the out ruling was confirmed after a one-minute, 32-second review.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: Lefty Jonathon Niese climbs the hill for the Pirates at 8:40 p.m. ET as the Bucs try to extend their streak to eight straight at Coors. Niese owns a career 7.94 ERA in Colorado, but he's 2-1 in four starts, so he's finding a way to win.
Rockies: Right-handed rookie Jon Gray (0-0, 9.00 ERA) had 10 strikeouts, but gave up five runs in five innings in his first start of the season, a no-decision against the Dodgers. Gray will hope to put the lessons to use in his next start at 6:40 p.m. MT.