PITTSBURGH (AP) The first two months of the season were a mess for Andrew McCutchen and John Jaso, a mish-mash of strikeouts and missed opportunities.
A change of scenery appears to have done more than a bit of good for both. The rest of the Pittsburgh Pirates, too.
Jaso drilled a pinch-hit two-run homer off Colorado's Adam Ottavino (0-1) in the seventh inning to break a tie and the resurgent McCutchen went deep twice as the Pirates pulled away from the Rockies late in a 5-2 victory Tuesday night.
''I know that nerves can get in there and adrenaline, so just keep that calm and it becomes another at-bat like you started the game,'' said Jaso, who is now primarily coming off the bench after splitting time between first base and the outfield earlier in the year.
Jaso improved to 6 of 9 with two home runs and seven RBIs in his last nine appearances as a pinch-hitter when he took a 1-0 pitch from Ottavino and bounced it off the fence in center field to put the Pirates ahead to stay. McCutchen provided some insurance with a two-run shot off Jordan Lyles in the eighth for his second home run of the game and the 13th multi-homer game of his career.
''I'm not trying to hit home runs, just put a good swing on the ball,'' McCutchen said.
McCutchen is hitting .396 with four home runs and 13 RBIs since being dropped from third to sixth in the batting order on May 26 to raise his batting average from .206 to .255. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has no immediate plans on returning McCutchen to his customary spot in the three-hole.
''I don't have any concept on why we would move him right now based on the way he's swinging right now,'' Hurdle said. ''Just leave him alone. ''
Gerrit Cole (4-6) broke out of a funk to allow just one run in seven strong innings . Pittsburgh's ace came in with an 8.84 ERA in his previous four starts but allowed just three hits, striking out three and walking three. The Pirates have won a season-high four straight following a four-game losing streak that dropped them to last in the NL Central.
Tony Wolters had two hits and an RBI for the Rockies. Trevor Story drove in a run and scored for Colorado. The NL West-leading Rockies have dropped three consecutive games for the first time this season. Colorado arrived in Pittsburgh with the most road victories in the majors (24) but their offense has gone quiet at PNC Park while managing three runs combined in back-to-back losses.
''It was kind of tough tonight,'' Story said. ''(Cole) has electric stuff. You know it's gonna be a battle against guys like that.''
Tyler Chatwood matched Cole for six innings, his lone mistake a pitch McCutchen sent into the left field stands in the fourth. Chatwood allowed six hits, struck out five and walked one and has a 1.00 ERA in his last four road starts.
LORD STANLEY VISITS
Captain Sidney Crosby and several other members of the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins stopped by PNC Park before the game and they brought the Cup with them. The Penguins set up the Cup in the Pirates clubhouse before the first pitch while players from both teams grabbed a quick celebratory photo.
The Penguins, including Crosby, Phil Kessel, Marc-Andre Fleury, Patric Hornqvist and Jake Guentzel, were saluted by the crowd before Crosby threw out the first pitch, a strike to teammate Ron Hainsey.
Rockies: LF Gerardo Parra's strained right quadriceps is worse than the team originally thought. Manager Bud Black said Parra, who went on the DL on June 7, will be out longer than anticipated. ... RHP Tyler Anderson (left knee inflammation) threw 52 pitches in a bullpen session on Monday. The team will wait until Wednesday before making a decision on when and where Anderson will make a rehab start. ... RHP Jon Gray (stress fracture left foot) will make a rehab start for Class-A Asheville on Wednesday.
Pirates: Cs Francisco Cervelli (concussion) and Chris Stewart (strained left hamstring) both threw and hit on Tuesday. Cervelli is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday.
Rockies: German Marquez (4-3, 4.44 ERA) will try to bounce back from his shortest start of the season when he faces the Pirates for the first time in his career on Wednesday. Marquez went just three innings against the Chicago Cubs last Friday, though Colorado rallied to win 5-3.
Pirates: Chad Kuhl (1-5, 5.63) looks for his first win in over two months on Wednesday. Kuhl hasn't gone longer than five innings in any of his last nine starts.
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