Pirates 5, Rockies 1

Ever since James McDonald made his major league debut by

striking out two Pirates in a perfect inning nearly two years ago,

Pittsburgh manager John Russell has longed to have him on his

team.

Thursday night, McDonald showed why.

McDonald pitched six shutout innings in his Pittsburgh debut and

the Pirates sent the Colorado Rockies to their seventh consecutive

road loss, 5-1.

”Pretty good, wasn’t it?” Russell said. ”That’s what I saw

when he pitched against us. It was dominating. His fastball was

very lively at a good angle, his changeup was really good. … With

the curveball, he kept them off-balance the whole game. It was very

good to see, obviously. This is what I saw when he was with L.A.,

and I was very happy with got him.”

Five days after being acquired from the Dodgers along with a

minor leaguer for closer Octavio Dotel, McDonald had eight

strikeouts – as many as any Pirates starter had all season.

McDonald struck out the side in the first and got six of the first

seven Colorado batters on swinging strikeouts.

”I was just real excited today and ready to be on the mound and

to get a chance to start every five days,” said McDonald, who

pitched primarily out of the bullpen the past two seasons with the

Dodgers – when he wasn’t in Triple-A. ”I was having fun today.

When you get ahead, pitching can be fun.”

Garrett Jones and Ronny Cedeno homered during a three-run second

inning for Pittsburgh, which came in having lost six of its past

seven.

Troy Tulowitzki had the lone RBI and three of the Rockies’ seven

hits – all singles. Colorado had won five of its past six since

snapping an eight-game losing streak.

The Rockies, playing their first of seven straight on the road,

have scored only 14 runs in their past seven games away from Coors

Field. They remained 5 1/2 games behind San Francisco in the NL

wild card race.

”Once again, we got a ballgame on the road where we got one run

and that’s it,” manager Jim Tracy said. ”You’re not going to win

too many baseball games when you have one run – it’s that

simple.

”We need to win a bunch of these,” Tracy said of the road

games. ”I’m not going to shy away from that fact.”

The 25-year-old McDonald (1-1) allowed four hits and a walk in

throwing 89 pitches in his second start of the season and sixth of

his career. His fastball was in the 94-96 mph range during the

first two innings, and he allowed only one runner to advance as far

as second base all game.

Although McDonald also induced swinging strikes on his fastball

and curveball, the majority of the strikeouts came on a changeup

McDonald said was ”real good today.”

”He got great stuff,” said Cedeno, recalling a scoreless

three-inning, three-strikeout outing McDonald had against the

Pirates last season. ”He had a great changeup, and I’d see his

curve – it was nasty. He’s got great stuff, and that’s – I’m so

glad we traded for him. We need starting pitchers here like

him.”

The Pirates’ starting pitchers combined to strike out eight

during a just-completed three-game series against Cincinnati.

Jones snapped an 0-for-20 stretch by leading off the second with

a high home run into the elevated seats in right off of Jeff

Francis, his team-leading 15th and third in his past three games

against the Rockies.

With Lastings Milledge aboard four batters later – and

immediately after a foul pop down the left-field line dropped in

between three Colorado defenders – Cedeno hit his sixth homer just

inside the left field pole.

”My breaking ball I left up, and I left a couple changeups up,

and that hurt me,” Francis said. ”They hit them. They did a good

job hitting them and making me pay for some mistakes.”

Francis (4-4) was charged with five earned runs on nine hits. He

had five strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings.

NOTES: Colorado 1B Jason Giambi made his first start since July

26 and went 0 for 4. He had only four at bats in the just-completed

Rockies’ eight-game homestand. 1B Todd Helton was given the day

off. … Twelve of Cedeno’s past 24 hits have been for extra bases.

… Tulowitzki is 13 for 35 (.371) since coming off the disabled

list July 27. He is 18-38 (.474) in 10 career games at PNC

Park.