PITTSBURGH – By the time Jose Tabata delivered his game-winning double, Friday turned to Saturday, Todd Helton went from being out of the lineup with a stiff back to in it as a pinch-hitter, and a crowd of 29,000 was reduced to a few die-hards.
Five hours. 14 innings. 15 pitchers. Great plays. Blown chances.
For a while, it looked as if the Pirates and Rockies would never stop playing.
Tabata's RBI double off the right-field wall with two outs in the 14th scored rookie Josh Rodriguez from first and sent the Pirates to a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies, ending the majors' longest — and wildest — game of the early season.
This one had a little bit of everything with managers having to dip deep into their bullpens and benches to get through the 5-hour, 11-minute marathon. Pirates reliever Evan Meek was the only available player who didn't get on the field and that was only because his shoulder tightened up earlier in the day.
"It was a long night for all of us, and you definitely don't want to be the guy that messed up," said Pirates reliever Chris Resop, who contributed three scoreless innings. "You just have to do what you can do, and keep going. We all did that tonight."
Tabata's drive off Franklin Morales (0-1) — Colorado's eighth pitcher — gave the Pirates a dramatic win one day after they disappointed a sellout crowd in their home opener. After he rounded second, Tabata, who homered several hours earlier in the fifth, was mobbed by his worn-out teammates.
"I was just looking for that one pitch," Tabata said. "I knew if he threw it middle-away, we'd see what happens."
Garrett Olson (1-1) pitched two scoreless innings and Pittsburgh's relievers combined to shut out the Rockies for 11 1-3 innings.
Jason Giambi hit a three-run homer in the first for Colorado, which was unable to push another run across despite having several scoring chances.
"It goes without saying that we had chances," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "A lot of them."
Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez went 0 for 7.
For an early-season game, this one had a season's worth of twists, turns, drama and even a little extra-inning gamesmanship.
After Rodriguez drew his walk in the 14th, the Rockies could have put Tabata on to face Olson, who was due up next in the No. 2 spot. The Pirates did their best to disguise that fact and Andrew McCutchen went into the on-deck circle as a decoy.
However, Tracy chose to let Morales face Pittsburgh's leadoff hitter, and Tabata made them pay with a shot that backed right fielder Seth Smith up to the wall. Smith couldn't reach it, and the Pirates ended Colorado's four-game winning streak.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was asked if he planted McCutchen in the on-deck circle to throw off the Rockies.
"Oh, come on," he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "Why would we do that? No, we put him up there in case of a play at the plate, Andrew was the more experienced guy there in case of a slide. I didn't want to have to have Garrett go through that."
Colorado closer Huston Street pitched 3 1-3 innings, the second-longest stint of his career and batted for just the second time as a major leaguer.
In the 14th, Helton, who was scratched from the starting lineup because of back stiffness, pinch-hit and grounded to second for the final out.
The Pirates seemed dead and buried in the top of the 10th.
Colorado got the go-ahead run to third with one out, and the Rockies had the bases loaded with two down. Ty Wigginton hit a screamer to third Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez backhanded, bounced to his feet and one-hopped his throw to get Wigginton.
Smith saved Colorado in the 11th. With a runner at first, he raced toward the line and made a sliding catch on the track to end the inning.
Down 3-0 after one inning and seemingly in trouble, the Pirates kept scrapping and caught the Rockies, who couldn't put them away.
Giambi was a last-minute replacement for Helton. The switch wasn't announced in the press box until Giambi, who had batted just once in five games, was already taking warmup cuts in the on-deck circle. Moments later, he circled the bases after drilling Ross Ohlendorf's 0-1 pitch into the seats in right, putting the Rockies ahead 3-0.
Ohlendorf pulled himself in the third with what the team termed "discomfort in his right shoulder." Ohlendorf had a concerned look on his face as he explained what happened before leaving the field.
"I felt some discomfort, and I knew it was time to come out," said Ohlendorf, who ended the season on the 60-day disabled list with a sore shoulder. "It's similar to last year, and it's in the lat area. We'll just have to see how it is over the next few days."
Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa, who had to leave his season debut with a blister, gave up two runs and two hits in five innings before having to leave with the same injury.
NOTES: When he managed in Colorado, Hurdle was frequently asked about the mile-high altitude in Denver, where offensive numbers were inflated by the thin air and where pitchers were afraid to throw anything over the plate. "The altitude is real," Hurdle said, "but I think it is overplayed. You pitch well, you get outs." ... The Pirates are the only team in the majors scheduled to play 10 straight games without a day off to start the season.