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McCutchen delivers tying, winning hits for Pirates

| Saturday, July 13, 2013, 10:48 p.m.
The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (left) is greeted by manager Clint Hurdle after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Mets on Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) holds on to the ball after tagging out the Mets' Eric Young Jr. (22), who attempted to score from third on an infield grounder by David Wright to third baseman Pedro Alvarez (right rear) during the fifth inning Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Pirates' A.J. Burnett pitches in the first inning against the Mets on Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Mets' Eric Young Jr. steals second base ahead of the tag of the Pirates' Clint Barmes in the first inning Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Pirates' A.J. Burnett hits a single in the third inning against the Mets on Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates catcher Russell Martin (right) holds on to the ball after tagging out the Mets' Eric Young Jr. (center) as umpire Brian Gorman makes the call during the fifth inning Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett delivers in the first inning against the Mets on Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.
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PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 13: Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates flinches on an inside pitch in the fourth inning against the New York Mets during the game on July 13, 2013 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The Mets' Marlon Byrd scores past Pirates catcher Russell Martin on a double by Kirk Nieuwenhuis during the fourth inning Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.
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Pirates starter A.J. Burnett delivers against the Mets on Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett wipes his head on the mound in the third inning against the Mets on Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates catcher Russell Martin (left) holds on to the ball after tagging out the Mets' Eric Young Jr. (center) as umpire Brian Gorman makes the call during the fifth inning Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.
Mets pitcher Carlos Torres delivers in the first inning against the Pirates on Saturday, July 13, 2013, at PNC Park.

Andrew McCutchen might be warming up for an encore to his dazzling 2012 season.

After a slow (by his standards) start to the year, McCutchen has found his batting stroke in the past two weeks. Saturday, he delivered two pivotal hits that boosted the Pirates to a 4-2 victory against the New York Mets.

“I'm satisfied when we're winning,” McCutchen said. “Numbers are going to fluctuate up and down. As long as I know I'm doing what I can to help us win, I'm satisfied. I'll take that over everything.”

Last year, McCutchen went into the All-Star break with a .362 batting average, a 1.039 OPS, 18 homers and 60 RBI. This year, McCutchen was hitting .247 at the end of April. It climbed steadily through May, leveled out in June, and 10 days ago finally cracked .300.

After collecting two hits — a game-tying homer and go-ahead single — Saturday, McCutchen bumped up his average to .303 with a 0.849 OPS. He has 10 home runs and 49 RBI.

In the sixth inning, Mets reliever David Aardsma's first pitch to McCutchen was high and tight.

“When he got buzzed, Andrew looked at us in the dugout, and it was like, ‘OK, I got this,' ” manager Clint Hurdle said.

McCutchen launched the next pitch over the center-field wall, tying the game at 2.

“I was ready to hit,” McCutchen said. “He came up and in, and I was able to bear down and not miss my pitch.”

In the seventh, singles by Travis Snider and Jose Tabata put runners on the corners with one out. McCutchen lined an RBI single off righty Greg Burke (0-2), putting the Pirates ahead to stay.

Russell Martin later drew a bases-loaded walk to score Tabata.

Pirates starter A.J. Burnett threw 96 pitches in 5 23 innings — the fourth time in his past five starts he hadn't lasted past the sixth inning. In his second outing since coming off the disabled list, Burnett gave up two runs on seven hits, walked four and struck out eight.

“You want to go deeper than that, obviously,” Burnett said. “But, I think I was a little sharper at times tonight, and there's no issue with my calf.”

Burnett still was wearing New York Yankees pinstripes the previous time he'd faced the Mets. He beat them in an interleague game May 21, 2011.

It had been nearly three years since Mets right-hander Carlos Torres had started a game in the major leagues. After tossing six innings in a losing cause for the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 3, 2010, Torres pitched in Japan in 2011 and last season toiled in the Colorado Rockies' bullpen.

Torres, 30, began this year in the Mets' farm system. He won his final five starts for Triple-A Las Vegas before being called up June 15.

Marlon Byrd walked with one out in the fourth then came all the way around to score on Kirk Nieuwenhuis' double to center to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Byrd figured in another run in the fifth. Eric Young and Murphy got it started with back-to-back singles. Young was thrown out at home on David Wright's fielder's choice grounder.

Murphy and Wright pulled off a double steal. But with runners at second and third, Burnett struck out Ike Davis swinging at a nasty curveball.

On a 1-1 pitch, Byrd hit a chopper to short and beat the throw for an RBI infield single. Clint Barmes got to the ball quickly but double-pumped to get a better grip before throwing on the run, and it cost him.

Torres started to fade in the fifth, and the Pirates came up with a run.

Garrett Jones doubled — just his third hit in a span of 29 at-bats — and scored when Jordy Mercer roped a single to right.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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