DENVER (AP) – The Pirates chose sleep over a potential chance to celebrate another trip to the postseason.
The party would have been put on hold anyway.
Starling Marte drove in two runs and Pittsburgh closed in on its third straight playoff berth by beating the Colorado Rockies 6-3 Tuesday night.
The Pirates reduced their magic number to one for securing at least an NL wild card, but didn’t wait around at Coors Field to watch San Francisco’s game at San Diego. A loss by the Giants would have put Pittsburgh in the postseason.
Instead of rooting on the Padres, players showered and dressed in a subdued Pirates clubhouse while the Giants built a late lead during their 4-2 victory.
“When it’s official, it’s official,” Andrew McCutchen said long before San Francisco’s game ended. “If they happen to lose and we clinch tonight we can celebrate tomorrow. I’d rather go to bed.”
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle met with some of the players after the game and it was decided the team wouldn’t wait around to find out its fate.
“I brought the leadership council in here and they’re ready to go home,” Hurdle said. “We’ll figure it out from there. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, we’ll show up and win a game tomorrow.”
All the Pirates need to wrap up a playoff appearance is a victory Wednesday against Colorado.
Pittsburgh also kept pace with NL Central leader St. Louis. The Cardinals beat Cincinnati to maintain a four-game lead over the second-place Pirates, but Hurdle said his team isn’t looking too far ahead.
“Our guys have great presence. We’re in the moment,” he said. “We’re not looking at yesterday, we’re not looking at the team behind us. We’re not looking at tomorrow or the team in front of us. We need to take care of our game.”
Pittsburgh scored in each of the first four innings against Chris Rusin to build a 6-3 lead.
Wilin Rosario’s solo homer in the third for Colorado cut it to 3-1, and RBI singles by Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado made it 4-3 in the third.
Marte, who had an RBI double in the first, followed Aramis Ramirez’s run-scoring triple in the fourth with a single off the bag at third to restore Pittsburgh’s three-run lead.
“Today was just one of those days that I fell behind hitters and didn’t make pitches when I needed to,” Rusin said. “When I got behind in the count and had to force myself to throw a strike, I either gave up hits or the balls bleeded through. Things didn’t fall my way.”
The Rockies had a chance to cut into the lead when they had runners on first and third in the fourth, but J.A. Happ fanned Brandon Barnes and pinch-hitter Kyle Parker to get out of the jam.
Happ (6-2) left after walking Rosario in the sixth. The left-hander allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out eight.
“He managed the game very, very well,” Hurdle said. “He didn’t let the game get away from him and he walks out of there with one walk and eight strikeouts. Made pitches when he needed to.”
Happ, who came to the Pirates from Seattle on July 31, agreed with the decision to put off celebrating as a team.
“Most teams in the position we’re in now expect to win games and be in the playoffs,” he said. “Not to downplay how nice that should be when it happens, (but) we do have a bigger goal. We’ll definitely celebrate if and when that time comes.”
Mark Melancon pitched the ninth for his 49th save, tops in the majors.
Rusin (5-9), who has the only two complete-game victories for Colorado this season, labored through four innings. He allowed six runs on eight hits and walked four.
Pirates: Ramirez left in the sixth with tightness in his left groin. Hurdle said Ramirez got hurt rounding second on his triple in the fourth inning.
Rockies: Arenado exited with two outs in the top of the ninth. He hit his face on the dirt diving for an infield single by Jordy Mercer and was replaced by Daniel Descalso. Arenado passed a concussion test and will be evaluated Wednesday.
Pirates: RHP Charlie Morton (9-8) makes his eighth career start against Colorado on Wednesday night. He is 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA overall against the Rockies but lost his only start against them this season.
Rockies: RHP Christian Bergman (3-0) steps in for ailing lefty Jorge De La Rosa. It will be Bergman’s 28th appearance this season but only his second start. His last one was April 14 at San Francisco.
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