Must C Clutch: McCutchen hits two key homers for win

CINCINNATI -- The typical baseball advisory -- can't relish the highs or rue the lows, because the next game is never far off -- has never been more applicable.

A few hours after leaving Great American Ball Park with their most uplifting win of the season, the Pirates were back to do it again.

However, the short span from last to first pitch couldn't dull the glow of the 6-5 win in 11 innings -- or five innings after the Reds had bulldozed Charlie Morton's 4-0 lead into a 5-4 deficit.

"You have no idea what goes on inside of me," said manager Clint Hurdle, who appeared calm in his postgame discussion of the events. "Exciting game. Yeah, a lot of cool stuff went on [Saturday] night that you love to watch.

"We just like to play ball. I'm proud of this team for developing into a team that just likes to play ball, every day, regardless of what happened to us the day before. Or regardless of how many times we're asked, 'How are you going to react?'"

Andrew McCutchen's reaction was to hit a game-tying homer in the ninth, and a game-winning homer in the 11th.

"It's what elite players are capable of doing," Hurdle said. "All those things you draw up when you're six in your backyard -- you want to do this or that -- elite players go do it on this stage, in front of a packed house, against a good ballclub. He beats number ones and number twos, he beats late-inning relievers."

Bucs set rotation coming out of All-Star break

Francisco Liriano will start the first game after the All-Star break. (AP)

CINCINNATI -- Francisco Liriano, who made his return start from a month-long injury on Sunday in the Pirates' 95th game of the season, will have the unusual assignment of also pitching game No. 96.

Manager Clint Hurdle and his staff have nailed down the team's rotation coming out of the four-day All-Star break, and Liriano will kick things off, opposing Colorado on Friday at PNC Park.

Liriano will be followed by Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke against the Rockies, then Edinson Volquez and Vance Worley will take their turns in the first two games of the home set against the Dodgers.

The alignment gives Volquez, the Pirates' top winner with a record of 8-6, a 10-day break to bounce back from his 114-pitch, complete-game victory on Thursday in St. Louis.

Hurdle excited about trip to All-Star Game

Clint Hurdle is happy to lead a group of Bucs to Minneapolis. (AP)

CINCINNATI -- Clint Hurdle still recalls his first All-Star Game experience with a wince. As manager of the 2007 National League champion Rockies, he had the NL reins in 2008: Playing in soon-to-be-leveled Old Yankee Stadium, squandering seventh- and eighth-inning leads, going 15 innings to a 4-3 loss.

"That was," Hurdle said on Sunday morning, "like an algebra test in a dentist's chair. Absolute clenched-fist, from start to finish."

Thus, Hurdle looks forward with great excitement to his second Midsummer Classic role, as one of Mike Matheny's coaches for the 85th renewal in Minnesota. Fewer responsibilities equal greater enjoyment.

Of course, being part of a five-man Pirates traveling party will enhance the occasion: Starting center fielder Andrew McCutchen, versatile Josh Harrison, left-hander Tony Watson and assistant athletic trainer Ben Potenziano are also on their way to Target Field.

"Oh, absolutely," Hurdle said enthusiastically. "It's a priceless moment, to be part of the festivities, the celebration of baseball. When you get in that locker room and see those players."

One of the players who will be in that NL locker room, Cincinnati's Todd Frazier, crossed Hurdle on the field the other day and called making the All-Star team a "dream come true."

"Kid," Hurdle responded, "it's a dream come true for 56-year-old men, too."

First number, last word

22: Come-from-behind wins this season by the Pirates, the latest courtesy of ninth- and 11th-inning home runs on Saturday night by Andrew McCutchen -- No. 22 in your scorecard.

"If they were going to beat me, they were going to have to beat me with my fastball. I figured if I'm going to get beat, it's going to be hard." -- Justin Wilson, on striking out Ryan Ludwick and Brayan Pena with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th Saturday, allowing the Bucs to win in 11.

Worth noting

Gerrit Cole's throwing program as he works his way back from a sore lat: He threw on flat-ground on Sunday, will rest on Monday, then flat-ground throwing also on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a 20-25 pitch bullpen on Thursday. The Pirates will determine the next step after that side session.

Starling Marte (bereavement list) is expected to rejoin the club on Wednesday. His mother-in-law's funeral was Friday, and he will also attend a mass on Tuesday before returning to prepare for Friday's start of second-half play.

Matt Hague was optioned back to Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday morning, clearing roster space for Liriano, activated off the DL to start against the Reds.