By Thomas Harding and Sarah K. Spencer
PITTSBURGH -- A pair of Pirates errors opened the door for the Rockies' four-run ninth inning in a 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday at PNC Park.
In the ninth inning, Colorado broke open a 1-1 game after a two-out throwing error by catcher Francisco Cervelli allowed Gerardo Parra to reach first. Closer Mark Melancon walked another batter and a wild pitch put runners on second and third for Tony Wolters, who singled on a grounder to first, scoring Parra. The ball took a hop off the bag, throwing Pirates first baseman John Jaso off-balance as he struggled to make a play for it, and Daniel Descalso scored an unearned run to make it 3-1.
"You know, it's a ground ball to the right side and it hits the bag, and that changes John's balance, everything moving to the ball, and the game got away from us late," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
"We had a great approach last night but we didn't get the timely hit, but I guess we got even today," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, who will miss Sunday's series finale to attend the high school graduation of his son, Bo. Bench coach Tom Runnells will manage Sunday's series finale.
The Rockies took a 1-0 lead in the first on Mark Reynolds' RBI double, and the Pirates tied it in the fourth on Jordy Mercer's RBI single, scoring Matt Joyce. Joyce collided with Wolters at home, but scored.
A few plays earlier in the fourth, Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang also collided with Wolters at the plate, but was called out. As Joyce reached on a fielder's choice, Kang tried to reach the plate by sticking out his left hand to graze the plate, but got Wolters' legs instead. The Pirates challenged for an illegal home-plate collision, but the call stood. Kang later left the game with discomfort in his left hand.
"A buddy back home had texted me afterward, so it's pretty cool to be able to have that, but the bigger picture is that we were able to win the game," said Chatwood, who yielded the single run while pitching around six hits in six innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED A plate full of collisions: In the fourth, Kang was called out at the plate after colliding with Wolters while sliding home. Kang reached his left hand out to find the plate, which appeared blocked by Wolters' legs. The Pirates argued for an illegal home-plate collision, but the call stood. A few plays later, Mercer singled on a line drive to left, driving in Joyce and tying the game. Joyce collided with Wolters, as well, knocking him out of the way in his search for the plate. More >
A hop and a skip : The first of the Rockies' four ninth-inning runs came as Wolters singled on a ground ball to Jaso and the ball took a funny hop off the bag, throwing Jaso off-balance as he tried to grab it and get his grip. Parra scored and Descalso scored an unearned run due to Jaso's fielding error, giving the Rockies a 3-1 lead.
"Everybody saw it, that's the way game goes," Jaso said. "The more you put the ball in play, the better chances you have of something going your way. So that's how it works."
Sometimes, the minimum is enough: Wolters has thrived defensively -- he picked up a ball that squirted from his glove and threw out Joyce trying to advance to second in the eighth -- but he has struggled offensively, as his .192 average attests. He did enough in the ninth on Saturday, though, knocking the game-winning bouncer up the first-base line to score two runs.
"I'm just trying to do my job, find my swing, little by little, my approach -- fine tuning, all that stuff," Wolters said. "But I'm glad that hit the base, got a hit, got a couple of runs. It was fun. That's who we are. We're grinders who won't stop until the last out is made." More >
Niese rebounds after early run: Reynolds' first-inning RBI double for a 1-0 Rockies lead was predictable. Reynolds is 11-for-21 against Niese. However, Niese held the Rockies to one hit after the third inning, and no further scoring during his seven frames.
"It wasn't real pretty, but we found a way to score against an outstanding closer." -- Weiss, on the late finish against Melancon, as the Rockies improved to 2-3 on a road trip to St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Boston
"It's a lot of dirt, like a piece of cake. But I don't like to make excuses. I've got to find a way to throw the ball the right way, that's it." -- Cervelli, on his throwing error in the ninth inning allowing Parra to reach
The Rockies challenged, and replay overturned a first-inning call to award Trevor Story an infield single in the first inning. Story would score on Reynolds' double two batters later. The Rockies benefitted in the sixth from replay upholding Wolters' tag of Kang.
Adames wasn't the only Rockies player celebrating a milestone. Right-hander Carlos Estevez, who was pitching at the Class A and Double-A levels last season, has impressed in 13 outings since being called up from Triple-A Albuquerque. On Saturday, Estevez ran his fastball 97-99 mph, struck out two in the eighth and earned his first Major League win. Teammates took a few postgame moments to commemorate the feats of the rookies.
"It was crazy, man," Adames said. "But that was a special day for me and Estevez. We grew in the same Little League back in the Dominican."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The victory ended the Rockies' eight-game losing streak to the Pirates.
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies: After forcing 11 groundball outs and pitching six innings in the Rockies' win at St. Louis to open the current road trip, Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis (4-2, 4.18 ERA) will return to the mound against the Pirates at PNC Park on Sunday at 11:35 a.m. MST.
Pirates: Right-hander Juan Nicasio (4-3, 4.46 ERA) will face his old team for the first time as a member of the Pirates in Sunday's series finale at 1:35 p.m. ET. Nicasio has gone 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA in five starts at PNC Park this season.