Profar’s go-ahead single lifts surging Rockies by struggling Pirates 4-3

Colorado Rockies catcher Austin Wynns, center, tags out Pittsburgh Pirates' Bryan Reynolds (10) with umpire Mike Muchlinski making the call during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. (AP)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Colorado Rockies held a meeting recently where they talked about the importance of playing good defense.

Not great defense. Not incredible defense. Just the kind of solid, dependable defense that should happen at the major-league level.

Centerfielder Brenton Doyle was listening.

Doyle’s perfect throw from centerfield nailed Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds at the plate in the sixth to snuff out a potentially big inning by the Pirates and teammate Jurickson Profar put the Rockies in front with a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the seventh as Colorado slipped by Pittsburgh 4-3 on Wednesday.

“It tells me that the art of throwing from the outfield is not lost,” Black said.

The Pirates had loaded the bases with no outs against Daniel Bard. Bard struck out Connor Joe looking before giving way to Brad Hand (2-1). Pittsburgh’s Jack Suwinski hit a fly ball to shallow center field. Doyle settled under it before delivering a perfect one-hop strike to catcher Austin Wynn.

“I’ve always been a guy who takes a lot of pride in my defense,” Doyle said. “I saw that ball go up and it was in a good spot where I could get some momentum behind (the throw). I made a good throw and Wynns behind the dish made a great tag. It was a big momentum boost in that game. Everyone was fired up.”

Profar included. Less than 24 hours after homering twice in a 10-1 rout, Profar gave the Rockies their eighth win in 10 games by lacing a Robert Stephenson (0-1) pitch into left field to score Wynns. Alan Trejo had two hits and an RBI for Colorado. Randal Grichuk added a run-scoring double as the Rockies earned their third straight series win.

“I think since our defense has picked up you’ve noticed us playing better,” Black said. “The defense has been solid. We’re not giving extra outs. We’re not making pitchers throw extra pitches. We’re throwing more strikes. It’s important right to keep the momentum and the thing about it is everyone’s contributing, which is great.”

Colorado closer Pierce Johnson finished off 6 1/3 shutout innings by Rockies relievers by striking out Josh Palacios with the tying run on third in the ninth to record his sixth save in as many chances.

Colorado starter Antonio Senzatela left with two outs in the third with right forearm tightness after giving up a two-run home run to Andrew McCutchen. Black said Senzatela — who underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee last August — will undergo further testing on Friday.

McCutchen finished 3 for 3 for Pittsburgh. Tucupita Marcano added the third home run of his brief major-league career but the Pirates squandered an early 3-0 lead while losing for the ninth time in 10 games, taking much of the shine off their sparkling 20-8 start.

Pittsburgh’s slide has coincided with an inability to score runs. The Pirates have scored three times or less in each of their last 10 games.

“I think when you scuffle a little bit, you have guys that try to press a little bit, and I think that’s where we’re at right now,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said.

The Rockies didn’t squander the same opportunity in the seventh. The first four batters reached against Stephenson, Profar the last.

Colorado has steadied itself in May after a dreadful April. The Rockies are 7-2 this month after going 9-20 in April.

Pittsburgh starter Rich Hill lasted just 3 2/3 innings, his shortest appearance of the season. The 43-year-old cruised into the fourth before things got away from him. Colorado scored three runs with two outs, abetted by a Hill fielding error that extended the inning.


Rockies: RHP Tyler Kinley (right elbow surgery) is “a little ahead of schedule” in his rehab according to manager Bud Black. There’s a chance Kinley, who had surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon last July, could be back before the All-Star break.

Pirates: RHP Vince Velasquez (right elbow inflammation) has resumed throwing and is scheduled to pitch a live batting practice next week. … The swelling in SS Oneil Cruz’s fractured left ankle has subsided a month removed from surgery. The team remains optimistic Cruz will be able to return by mid-to-late summer.


Rockies: Return home for a three-game weekend series against Philadelphia starting Friday. Austin Gomber (3-4, 6.75 ERA) will seek his fourth straight victory in the opener.

Pirates: Are off Thursday before starting a five-game, six-day road trip in Baltimore on Friday. Johan Oviedo (2-3, 5.59) gets the start in the first game at Camden Yards.