Rox pounded by Pi­rates

Hur­dle re­turns to Coors Field, guides Pittsburgh to 13-5 rout of his for­mer team in se­ries opener

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Groke

Early Fri­day af­ter­noon within the con­crete walls of the vis­i­tors’ club­house at Coors Field, Pittsburgh Pi­rates man­ager Clint Hur­dle hud­dled his start­ing pitch­ing staff to­gether for a con­fab. Hur­dle knows up close, from his eight sea­sons as Rock­ies skip­per, the ex­haust­ing power of the LoDo ball­park.

“Just take your ERA, put it in your back pocket and check it a week from now,” he told them. “If you get dinged or doinked, hey, keep go­ing be­cause your of­fense has a chance to pick things up.”

The Rock­ies, just as Hur­dle cau­tioned, dinged wide-eyed Pittsburgh rookie right-han­der Trevor Wil­liams on Fri­day night for three runs in the first in­ning. He sur­vived. And the Pi­rates punched back, doink­ing Colorado and its two-pitcher pig­gy­back for a 13-5 vic­tory in front of 41,192 fans.

Rookie pitcher Jeff Hoff­man en­dured just three high-vol­ume in­nings for the Rock­ies. Long man Jor­dan Lyles suf­fered through the next three. And Pittsburgh star An­drew McCuthen tore his way to a 3-for-4 night with three runs scored and three RBIs in a lop­sided start to a three-game week­end se­ries. He was fol­lowed by cleanup hit­ter Josh Bell, who had his first ca­reer four-hit game.

In his in­tro­duc­tory visit to Coors Field, Wil­liams dou­bled the dis­tance of Hoff­man, slalom­ing through 6M in­nings of level-headed pitch­ing. More im­pres­sively, he cold-stopped a Rock­ies of­fense that had scored 49 runs in four days, all vic­to­ries. He gave up five runs, but on an el­e­vated slid­ing scale, Hur­dle will take it.

And the red-hot Pi­rates (49-48), who reached .500 on Thurs­day for the first time since April 16, won a sixth con­sec­u­tive game and a ninth in their last 10.

“Oh, my good­ness. Good pitch­ing beats good hit­ting every day,” Hur­dle said. “But if you don’t pitch well here, you get clob­bered.”

That is what hap­pened to Hoff­man. Star­ling Marte’s lead­off sin­gle to open the game was not an im­pres­sive dis­play of hit­ting, but af­ter McCutchen walked, Josh Bell and David Freese sin­gled in two runs. The Rock­ies volleyed

with three runs in the first, on a DJ LeMahieu dou­ble and run-scor­ing sin­gles from Nolan Are­nado, Ger­ardo Parra and Car­los Gon­za­lez.

But as Wil­liams blanked the Rock­ies through the next four frames, the Pi­rates put up three runs in the sec­ond, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and two more in the sixth, capped by Jordy Mer­cer’s 444-foot, two-run homer off Lyles to left field. The Bucs were up 10-3 at that point.

“There are re­wards all over this park,” Hur­dle said. “It’s not like you have to bang it right down the line to cover and carry. You can hit a ball out of this park from line to line.”

Hoff­man’s is­sues cov­ered sim­ple com­mand. He walked four bat­ters in three in­nings, well above his sea­son av­er­age of 2½ free­bies per nine in­nings. And they were poorly timed. Af­ter he whiffed Mer­cer with a fish-hook curve­ball in the sec­ond, Hoff­man then walked Wil­liams at the bot­tom of the or­der and hit Marte with a pitch on the top side. Those sins cost him when Josh Bell dou­bled them to the plate. Colorado man­ager Bud Black yanked him af­ter 82 pitches.

Lyles’ three in­nings in­cluded just four hits al­lowed. But one was a lead­off dou­ble to Josh Har­ri­son in the fourth (he later scored) and Mer­cer’s bases-clear­ing blast in the sixth. He did not walk any­body, at least.

Are­nado slammed a solo homer to left in the sixth off Wil­liams, but LeMahieu be­fore him and Parra and Ian Des­mond af­ter, failed to reach base. And the Rock­ies (56-42) lost a third game in four against the Pi­rates this sea­son.

“It’s a dif­fer­ent game here,” Hur­dle said.

John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Rock­ies pitcher Jeff Hoff­man strug­gled through three in­nings dur­ing his start against the Pittsburgh Pi­rates at Coors Field on Fri­day night, al­low­ing seven runs and nine hits.

John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Rock­ies catcher Tony Wolters is tagged out by Pi­rates third base­man David Freese. Freese drove in a pair of runs dur­ing Fri­day night’s of­fen­sive bat­tle at Coors Field. The game was the first of a three-game set be­tween the Pi­rates and Rock­ies.

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