If someone other than Brad Hawpe starts the All-Star Game in right field for the National League, there ought to be an investigation.
The Rockies' slugger continued to add to his resume' Friday night in Pittsburgh by blasting a 1-1 pitch over the center field wall for a ninth-inning, two-run homer that put Colorado ahead to stay. Ian Stewart, pinch-hitting for the struggling Garrett Atkins, had doubled leading off the inning and scored ahead of Hawpe.
Hawpe entered the game with a sparkling .357/.435/.643 line so far in 2009 and added to that with his 2-for-4 performance. He now has six HR and 30 RBI through 34 games.
Jorge De la Rosa continued his dominance on the mound, going seven innings and allowing one earned run while striking out ten with no walks. De la Rosa tied a Rockies' record by fanning 22 batters over consecutive contests, a mark he now shares with the late Darryl Kile.
De la Rosa lowered his ERA to 3.16, though his record doesn't reflect it at 0-3. He left the game with his team trailing 1-0 and received yet another no-decision in a well-pitched contest.
Pittsburgh's lone tally came in the sixth inning.
After Nyjer Morgan and Freddy Sanchez both struck out to open the frame, Nate McClouth singled to right and then stole second. He scored on a sharp single to left by Craig Monroe, just beating a strong throw by Ryan Spilborghs.
Pirates' starter Paul Maholm held the Rockies to just five hits over his seven innings and didn't allow a run.
The Rockies did have their chances against Maholm, but never capitalized. Rockies' batters managed a 1-for-5 effort with runners in scoring position, but that lone hit was an infield single by Todd Helton in the third inning that did not allow Troy Tulowitzki to score from second.
Maholm was relieved by Tyler Yates to start the top of the eighth, and the Pirates caught a huge break.
Seth Smith, pinch-hitting for De la Rosa, singled to center. Dexter Fowler attempted to sacrifice Smith to second, and then dropped a two-strike bunt that caught the defense off guard. Fowler beat the throw to first, and Smith advanced all the way to third on the play.
Tulowitzki followed with a sinking liner to left that Morgan snagged and threw home in an attempt to nail Smith who had tagged on the play. Smith beat the throw and the Rockies appeared to have tied the game.
However, the Pirates appealed the play, claiming that Smith had left third base too soon. Home plate umpire Scott Barry upheld the appeal and ruled Smith out, nullifying the run. Replays would show that Barry made the incorrect call, but the run was taken off the board and the Rockies went into the bottom of the eighth still down a run.
Lefty Alan Embree worked through a scrape in the bottom of the eighth by getting Adam LaRoche on a fly ball to left with two men on. Embree would go on to claim the win after Hawpe's heroics in the top of the ninth.
Spilborghs scored the third run of the ninth for the Rockies. He followed Hawpe's home run with a single, moved to second on Chris Iannetta's groundout, and scored on a Matt Murton pinch-hit single.
Ryan also turned in an outstanding defensive effort on the evening with a number of great plays in left including reaching over the fence and robbing Pirates' shortstop Jack Wilson of a home run.
Huston Street struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth on just 15 pitches to seal the deal.
This was the first game this year in which the Rockies were tied or trailing after seven complete innings that they managed to earn a victory.
The win moves the team's record to 14-20, and they are an identical 7-10 at home and on the road.