Pirates hope to rebound vs. Rockies

The Pittsburgh Pirates were much more disciplined at the plate in Monday's series opener against the Colorado Rockies, but still lost.

The Pirates, who matched a franchise record for a nine-inning game with 17 strikeouts in Sunday's 4-1 loss to Milwaukee, look to get back on track this evening in the second test of a three-game set from Coors Field.

Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer and starting pitcher Jeff Karstens drove in a run. Karstens allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings for a no- decision before Jason Grilli gave up the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a sacrifice fly from Dexter Fowler. Wilin Rosario singled and later came around to score when Fowler lifted a fly ball to center field.

"We knew we had to get something done and knew we had to get it done quick," Fowler said. "We didn't know if the rain was coming back or how long we'd have to stay."

Andrew McCutchen finished 2-for-4 with a run scored to continue his hot streak. He entered the night batting .560 with seven home runs, 19 runs scored and 16 RBI in the past 12 games, and currently leads the major leagues with a .372 batting average. McCutchen had homered in four straight games and was named National League Player of the Week for the second week in a row.

"Andrew is playing the game at a very high caliber right now on both sides of the ball," Pirates manager and former Colorado skipper Clint Hurdle told the club's website. "Offensively, with the big swing of the bat ... it's been fun to watch. The numbers up there really get your attention."

Neil Walker has been receiving plenty of attention lately and collected three hits and a run scored to push his hitting streak to 16 games. He is two games shy of his career-best hitting streak established in 2010.

Prior to the game, the Pirates activated outfielder Alex Presley from the seven-day concussion disabled list and he went 1-for-4.

Pittsburgh remained one game behind Cincinnati for the NL Central lead. The Reds lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks last night. The Pirates have lost three of four games on their six-game road trip, and another setback would give them back-to-back losses in series since May 18-23.

Erik Bedard hasn't won since June 8 and will take the mound for the Pirates tonight. He is 0-4 with a 7.99 earned run average over his last five starts and suffered his third consecutive loss on July 6 in a 6-5 setback versus San Francisco, where he gave up five runs -- four earned -- in 3 2/3 innings.

Bedard, who has yielded four or more runs in each of his last three outings, is just 4-10 with a 4.80 ERA in 17 starts this season. The left-hander is 2-7 in nine road starts and lost his only career start against Colorado back on June 10, 2007 as a member of Baltimore. Bedard gave up nine hits and three runs -- two earned -- in five innings of a 6-1 defeat.

Colorado halted a two-game slide to win for the fourth time in seven tries. Jeff Francis held the Pirates to a run over the first five innings and Rex Brothers later took the mound in the ninth following a lengthy rain delay to pick up the win.

Eric Young Jr. had a two-run double to highlight a four-run fifth inning for the Rockies, who are 2-2 on a six-game homestand and have scored at least four runs in four of the past five games. Also, Rockies infielder Chris Nelson was admitted to a local hospital and was to remain overnight Monday as he undergoes tests for an irregular heartbeat.

The Rockies are hoping Christian Friedrich can duplicate his last performance and pitch them to the victory column tonight. Friedrich was 0-5 with a 7.85 earned run average in six starts before beating Philadelphia on Friday with six innings of one-run ball and seven strikeouts in a 6-2 victory.

Friedrich outdueled Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee in the process.

"I learned so much from observing him, his workouts and work ethic, the way he throws the ball," Friedrich said of Lee. "We had conversations but it wasn't always about baseball, just small talk and stuff."

Friedrich improved to 5-6 with a 5.60 ERA in 13 starts in his rookie campaign and will face Pittsburgh for the first time. In six starts at Coors Field, the left-hander is 2-3 with a less-than-stellar 8.01 ERA.

Colorado dropped two of three meetings with Pittsburgh at PNC Park in April.