SAN DIEGO (AP) — Andrew McCutchen paused a bit as he rounded first base after hitting his third home run Sunday, wanting to make sure that it was indeed gone before finishing his trot.
It was. The ball hit the right-field foul pole and bounced onto the field, causing a moment of confusion before one of the umps signaled homer.
“I just wanted it to stay fair,” McCutchen said after the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the San Diego Padres 7-1 to snap a four-game losing streak. “I didn’t know if it was going to stay fair or not. I just kept running until someone signaled something.
“It feels great,” said McCutchen, who had his third career three-homer game. “I’m in a good position to hit. I wasn’t missing anything; getting pitches to hit and hitting them and being able to hit them with some power. It felt good. I had a good day at the plate. It was an all-around good day.”
McCutchen’s big day backed Gerrit Cole, who pitched seven innings of five-hit ball for the Pirates.
It was just the second win in eight games for the Pirates, who ended the Padres’ four-game winning streak.
McCutchen, a five-time All-Star and the 2013 NL MVP, has 22 homers. He connected with two outs in the first off left-hander Clayton Richard, with the ball clearing the fence just out of the reach of center fielder Manuel Margot. He homered into the Padres’ bullpen in left-center in the eighth off rookie Jose Torres and then homered with two outs in the ninth, again off Torres.
“It feels good, man,” McCutchen said. “I’ve done it before so it’s cool to be able to do it again. To have that opportunity to go out there and do it for the third time in my career, that’s pretty cool.”
This was McCutchen’s third multihomer game of the season and 15th of his career. He also made a nice diving catch in center field to end the eighth.
“They’re special days, and I told him that as he came off the field,” said manager Clint Hurdle, who turned 60 Sunday. “I’ve got to see him do it a couple times now, three homers in a game. He creates a wake in everything he does. To have your best players and have the performance they had today, Andrew and Cole, makes the game look easy, and it’s not.
“I’ve watched players play at an elite level and Andrew’s as good as any of them.”
McCutchen scored four runs.
“He’s a perennial All-Star,” Richard said. “He’s one of the top players in the league for a reason. You have to give him credit. Like you saw today, he hits with power to all fields, he has speed. He’s a really good player.
“I fell behind McCutchen a couple of times and I think that’s really what changed the game,” he said.
Pinch-hitter Josh Bell homered in the ninth, his 19th.
Cole (9-7), who lives in Santa Ana and played at UCLA, won his second straight start and third decision in a row. His only big mistake was allowing a home run by rookie Dusty Coleman to center field with one out in the seventh, his second. Cole struck out eight and walked two.
Cole was a happy witness to McCutchen’s big day.
“It’s a lot of fun,” the right-hander said. “Using all three parts of the ballpark. Pretty special hitter.”
McCutchen is successful because of “his persistence to stick with his process and just control what he can control and always going in the right direction,” Cole said.
Cole said he “just executed a good amount of pitches and kept them off-balance enough. When guys are eating up groundballs left and right you tend to attack the zone.”
The Pirates scored three runs in the sixth when the first four batters reached. Jose Osuna hit a two-run triple to right-center and Jordy Mercer followed with an RBI single to center.
Richard (5-12) gave up seven hits and four runs in six innings, struck out five and walked two.
Richard notched his MLB-leading seventh pickoff when he caught Cole too far off the bag after reaching on a single in the third.
San Diego first baseman Jose Pirela made an impressive catch of a foul ball by Chris Stewart while diving into the stands to end the top of the eighth.
Pirates: Josh Harrison suffered discomfort in his lower left leg while stretching for the bag on a grounder in the third inning. He reached on a throwing error by shortstop Dusty Coleman and was replaced by Max Moroff. Moroff stayed in the game at second base.
Padres: C Austin Hedges (concussion) and 3B Yangervis Solarte (side) came off the DL and started.
Pirates: After an off day, RHP Jameson Taillon (6-4, 4.03 ERA) is scheduled to open a home series Tuesday night against the Cincinnati reds and RHP Homer Bailey (2-5, 8.37).
Padres: After an off day, RHP Jhoulys Chacin (10-7, 4.22) is set to start the opener of a two-game series against Minnesota, with RHP Berrios (9-4, 3.76).