One night after my ode to the three run homer, Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run homer to give the Pirates a lead early and Neil Walker and Garrett Jones hit hugely clutch solo shots late to give the Pirates a really nice come-from-behind 11-inning win over the Cardinals.
McCutchen’s three run homer was especially nice to see, given his slump of late. He’s showed signs of breaking out of it and so a 2-for-3 night with a three-run homer is certainly welcome. The homer is a career-high 17th for him and since he also notched his 20th stolen base of the year tonight, he’s pretty much a lock for a 20/20 season this year. Even with his slump, his numbers are up across the board and if he can finish 2011 strong, he’s going to have people raving about him the way we all were at the All-Star break, I think.
Jeff Karstens faltered in the sixth inning tonight, though, and so the Pirates couldn’t hold the 3-1 lead that ‘Cutch’s homer staked them to. When Joel Hanrahan gave up his first run in a million years in the ninth, it seemed like this game was destined for the “disappointing loss” column that’s tallied so many notches in the last three weeks. Neil Walker promptly put that notion to rest with a home run on the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth, and though the Pirates threatened again in both the ninth and tenth it took a monster blast from Garrett Jones in the bottom of the 11th to clinch the Pirates’ first series win at PNC since July 18-20 against the Reds.
The Pirates are a long way from where they were a month ago, but these two wins against the Cardinals feel pretty good right now. A sweep tomorrow would be most excellent.