PITTSBURGH -- On a day when big hits were few, the Rockies let Eric Young Jr.'s legs do the winning.Young was hit by a pitch to open the eighth, Young made it around the bases on two plays in which few players in baseball could advance, and gave the Rockies a 2-1 victory over the Pirates Wednesday afternoon in the first game of a doubleheader at PNC Park. It was a day when Pirates starter James McDonald didn't give up a hit or a run until Troy Tulowitzki's infield single the seventh. In addition, Rockies starter Juan Nicasio threw scoreless ball until yielding Pedro Alvarez's leadoff homer in the seventh. But the pitchers' duel slipped away from the Pirates when reliever Chris Resop (0-2) hit Young with a pitch with one out in the eighth. Marco Scutaro singled to left. Although Young began the play flat-footed he motored to third without giving left fielder Alex Presley a chance to make a throw. Tyler Colvin flied to medium right against reliever Tony Watson. Pirates right fielder Jose Tabata was moving toward the plate upon making the catch and made a strong, one-hop throw to the plate, yet Young zoomed by catcher Michael McKenry. "He's got to make a perfect throw to get me," Young said. "If somebody makes a perfect throw, all you can do is tip your hat." Young's run made a winner of reliever Matt Reynolds (2-0), who struck out Presley to end the seventh with a runner at second. "I don't know that I could name another guy in the league that's going to score from third base on the ball that Colvin hit," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "There's probably a couple of other guys that would try it, but it's less than five."
From the season-opener in Houston, when Young stole a base then baited a throwing error to score the winning run, he has either won or played a key role in winning five games with his speed.McDonald was effectively wild, throwing strikes on 53 of his 101 pitches. But Tulowitzki's single, after the McDonald walked Carlos Gonzalez to open the seventh. A wild pitch moved the runners and Jason Giambi delivered a sacrifice fly. McDonald escaped by striking out Michael Cuddyer and Wilin Rosario. Nicasio gave up nine hits and struck out five in 6 2/3 economical innings, with 95 pitches and 61 strikes, with the big blemish being Alvarez's third homer of the season.
"I threw my fastball for a strike, and my breaking ball, and my changeup was good," Nicasio said.
Reynolds, Esmil Rogers (three strikeouts in the eighth) and Rafael Betancourt (6-for-6 on save chances) kept the Pirates scoreless the rest of the game.
"Rogers was really, really good in the eighth inning and Betancourt has been solid since Opening Day," Tracy said.
Rookie catcher Wilin Rosario helped the pitchers by throwing out two runners on steal attempts: Presley in the first inning after his leadoff single, and Clint Barmes on a pitchout in the seventh, when the Rockies were expecting a bunt.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.