DENVER -- Erik Bedard ended his monthlong losing streak by getting better control of his pitches and helped the Pittsburgh Pirates pick up a milestone victory in the process.
Bedard, making his first start in 11 days, pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Andrew McCutchen homered, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 6-2 on Tuesday night to become the fifth team with at least 50 wins.
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The Pirates joined the New York Yankees (56), Texas Rangers (54), Washington Nationals (52) and Cincinnati Reds (51), whom they trail by one game in the NL Central.
"It's a mile marker along the way," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There's a bunch of people in there who planned on getting there earlier than we did. We played well tonight, but we haven't found our rhythm on the road yet. But we're working hard. We're playing hard, and I'm very optimistic we're going to get there."
The performance of Bedard (5-10) might have been the most encouraging aspect of the Pirates' latest win. He went 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs -- one earned -- on five hits in snapping his second four-game losing streak of the season. Bedard struck out four and walked four in his first win since beating Kansas City on June 8.
"Every win from here on out is going to be huge, but for us to have him come out and throw the ball the way he did is just as big," Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes said.
Between starts, Bedard said he threw a couple of bullpen sessions and focused on throwing his pitches with a greater degree of control to try to lessen the times he falls behind hitters in the count.
"I felt the same as I've felt in my other games," Bedard said. "I just threw more strikes. It helped today that they were really aggressive and swung early and put the ball in play. Starting the second half in Colorado was not what I wanted, but the results came out good and we'll build on that."
Christian Friedrich (5-7) gave up five runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings in losing for the sixth time in his last seven decisions. He walked three and struck out two.
With two outs in the ninth, reliever Juan Cruz walked Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez and closer Joel Hanrahan walked Michael Cuddyer to load the bases before striking out pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin to earn his 25th save in 28 chances.
"We created a number of opportunities for ourselves, but we stranded 13 runners and that hurt," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Trailing 2-1, the Pirates batted around in a four-run fifth to go in front 5-2.
Friedrich walked Michael McKenry and Clint Barmes to start the inning and Bedard advanced them with a sacrifice. Alex Presley's RBI groundout evened the score and Barmes scored the go-ahead run on Drew Sutton's single.
McCutchen, who homered in the fourth for the Pirates' first run, then singled. After Friedrich's wild pitch got past catcher Wilin Rosario and rolled to the backstop, allowing Sutton to score from third and McCutchen to move up, Casey McGehee hit an RBI single that chased Friedrich. Neil Walker singled off reliever Matt Reynolds to extend his hitting streak to 17 games before Pedro Alvarez struck out to end the inning.
"It just got away from me," Friedrich said. "You can't go into an inning when you have the seven, eight and nine hitters coming up and you walk the two leadoff hitters. You have to find a way to get that big out and I didn't get to it.
"I have to find a way to learn from these outings. Try to take the positives out of it and make it a lesson," Friedrich added.
Bedard retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh before Marco Scutaro singled to right. He walked Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez to load the bases and was relieved by Jared Hughes who got Michael Cuddyer to fly out to deep center for the final out of the inning.
Pittsburgh then added another run in the eighth on an RBI double by McKenry, a former Rockie.
The Rockies got an unearned run in the third when Scutaro scored from third after left fielder Alex Presley had Cuddyer's fly ball kick off the webbing of his glove for an error.
McCutchen connected for his 22nd homer leading off the fourth, but the Rockies took a 2-1 lead in bottom of the inning when Rosario walked and Josh Rutledge followed with an opposite-field triple to right.
Pittsburgh sends RHP James McDonald (9-3) against RHP Jeremy Guthrie (3-9) in the finale of its three-game series at Colorado on Wednesday. ... The Rockies have placed infielders Jonathan Herrera (left wrist infection) and Chris Nelson (irregular heart beat) on the 15-day disabled list and recalled outfielder Andrew Brown and infielder DJ LeMahieu. ... Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin (right shoulder inflammation) came out of a 30-pitch simulated game well Tuesday and is slated for a roughly 45-pitch simulated game on Sunday. ... Walker's 17-game hitting streak is the longest by a Pirates player this season and one shy of his career high, set in 2010. ... Fowler has 16 hits in his last nine games. ... The Rockies left the bases loaded in the first, seventh and ninth innings.