CINCINNATI — Andrew McCutchen drove a 2-2 pitch over the center field wall in the ninth inning on Saturday night to resurrect a game that had turned sour for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then he did it again in the 11th to lead the Pirates to a 6-5 win against the Cincinnati Reds.
The first homer tied the game 5-5 after starter Charlie Morton gave up two crippling home runs in the sixth inning to erase an early 4-0 lead; the second gave the Pirates the win at Great American Ball Park.
The home runs were his 16th and 17th of the season. The first was off reliever Jonathan Broxton, the second off J.J. Hoover.
The Reds threatened in the 10th inning when Ernesto Frieri walked Ramon Santiago and Todd Frazier to open the inning.
Jay Bruce nearly drove in the winning run with a single to right field off Justin Wilson, but Santiago was cut down at home plate by Gregory Polanco's strong throw to catcher Russell Martin.
Wilson then proceeded to strikeout Ryan Ludwick and Brayan Pena to get out of a bases loaded jam.
The win gives the Pirates a 49-45 record.
The Pirates had manufactured runs in the first, third, and a pair in the fourth to carry a 4-0 lead in what was shaping up to be a dominating start by Morton.
But Morton gave up a two-run homer to pinch hitter Chris Heisey, followed by a three-run, 433-foot blast by Todd Frazier to give the Reds a 5-4 lead.
Morton had history on his side at Great American Ball Park, carrying into Saturday a 3-0 record with a 1.30 ERA in his last four starts at the stadium, dating back to 2011.
He even threw back-to-back, complete game shutouts at Great American on April 15, 2011, and May 18, 2011.
He was clipping along through five scoreless innings, aided by his wicked curveball.
But the sixth inning could not have gone much worse.
Morton walked Zack Cozart to open the sixth, and it cost him quickly.
Heisey came to the plate to pinch-hit for starting pitcher Mike Leake and drove a fastball over the left field wall to cut the Pirates lead to 4-2.
Billy Hamilton, who had struck out in his first two at-bats, then singled and stole second. Next, Morton walked Santiago and suddenly the go-ahead run was at the plate with no outs, prompting a conference with pitching coach Ray Searage.
Morton worked the count full to Frazier, then threw him a fastball.
Frazier clubbed it so convincingly, that McCutchen could do little but turn, take a handful of steps, then stop and watch it go.
Its estimated distance was 433 feet, but the speed of its travel was far more impressive.
The Pirates first comeback attempt came when the club put two aboard in the eighth with back-to-back one-out singles by Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison.
Polanco beat out a double play to send Mercer to third with two outs.
Manager Clint Hurdle opted to send recently promoted Matt Hague to the plate to face lefty Manny Parra. Hague would have pinch hit for Travis Snider, who had gone 3 for 4, but that prompted a pitching change by the Reds to right-hander Jumbo Diaz.
Hurdle replaced Hague with Ike Davis to face Diaz. Davis grounded out on one pitch.
The Pirates manufactured some early run support when Russell Martin drove in Snider with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the first, and drove in McCutchen with another sac-fly in the third to make it 2-0.
The Pirates plated two more in the fourth inning.
Gaby Sanchez scored from third when a Leake pickoff attempt rolled into the stands, and Polanco drove in Mercer with an RBI single.
Leake was struggling with command as his pitch count soared to 70 in the fourth inning, prompting movement in the Reds bullpen.
Morton, meanwhile, was busy dominating at that point.
Morton struck out Hamilton and Jay Bruce with his curveball in the first and gave up just one hit through three innings, and just three through five.
He opened the fourth by giving up a leadoff single to Santiago, but induced a pop-up and 6-5-3 double play to end the inning.
Leake lasted two more innings after the bullpen first started warming and finished by going six innings. He gave up nine hits, four earned runs, walked three and struck out two.