Pirates' McCutchen hurts wrist in victory over Cardinals

Rob Biertempfel
| Saturday, June 30, 2012, 4:58 p.m.

ST. LOUIS — Andrew McCutchen patrols center field with a linebacker's mentality. Sometimes, he'd be better off wearing shoulder pads.

In the Pirates' 7-3 victory Saturday over the St. Louis Cardinals, McCutchen crashed into the outfield wall chasing a fly ball and later sprained his left wrist as he made a diving catch.

McCutchen left the game after the top of the seventh inning with the Pirates holding a 6-2 lead. X-rays showed no breaks, and McCutchen is listed as day-to-day.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said McCutchen likely will not be in the lineup Sunday for the series finale. After the game, McCutchen indicated he might appeal that decision.

“We'll see how I feel (Sunday),” McCutchen said. “I don't get days off unless I'm hurt. I'm not trying to get a day off. I'll get days off in the offseason.”

In July 2010, McCutchen missed six games after spraining his shoulder while making a similar diving catch. That injury did not force him to change his all-out approach.

“I know my limitations,” McCutchen said. “I dive for balls I know I can get. Sometimes, you get injured. It's part of the game. I just go out and play hard.”

Hurdle is used to seeing McCutchen hurl his body around the field, trying to make big plays.

“My heart doesn't go in my throat anymore,” Hurdle said. “I've seen it all happen. I just wait until they get up or they don't get up, then go accordingly. I want him to play the game (hard), and that's what he does.”

The Pirates surged to seven games over .500 and won 17 games in a month for the first time since August 2007. Sunday, they will have a chance to pull off their first three-game sweep in St. Louis since May 27-29, 1991.

The Pirates took a 4-0 lead in the first inning when Pedro Alvarez hit a grand slam off right-hander Lance Lynn (10-4). Alvarez took a borderline pitch to work a full count, then drove a fastball 432 feet into the right field bleachers.

“I treated it like any other at-bat,” Alvarez said. “If I walk, that's an RBI. If I get a hit, even better.”

Alvarez's second career grand slam was the Pirates' 39th homer this month, tying the franchise record for June. The Pirates have homered in eight straight games, their longest streak since June 10-19, 2008.

Tony Cruz began the bottom of the third with a double off the center-field wall. McCutchen slammed into the padding as he tried to make the catch but was not injured on the play.

“It would've been a sick catch,” McCutchen said.

The Cardinals scored two runs in the inning, which ended with McCutchen doing a high-speed belly flop to snag Carlos Beltran's sinking liner in shallow center. McCutchen stayed on the ground for a few moments after the play, then had his left wrist examined in clubhouse while the Pirates batted in the fourth.

“An awesome catch,” said Jeff Karstens (1-2), who worked seven innings for the win. “But then, I thought he might be hurt, and I was wishing he hadn't tried to catch it. McCutchen is our best player. We can't afford to lose him.”

McCutchen stayed in the game but was in obvious discomfort. While batting in the fifth, he threw down his bat and briefly stepped out of the batter's box after taking an awkward swing.

“I tried to hold up, and it tightened up,” said McCutchen, who took himself out of the game after flying out in the seventh.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or 412-320-7811.

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