Pittsburgh Pirates' Neil Walker is congratulated at the plate by teammates Starling Marte, left, and Andrew McCutchen (22) after hitting a three run homer against Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Christian Bergman during the third inning of a baseball ga
Jack Dempsey
September 24, 2015

DENVER (AP) The music was turned up maybe a tad bit louder than usual. A couple more handshakes, too. Perhaps a few more selfies.

Other than that - and all the sparkling wine bottles scattered around - this was a rather subdued celebration by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

A quick team toast to mark the occasion after a 13-7 win over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night and that was about it. These Pirates have bigger goals than simply getting into the playoffs.

That's old hat by now for a team that just secured its third straight trip to the postseason - not all that long after losing 105 games in 2010.

''We're happy with where we are,'' said Andrew McCutchen, who donned a postseason hat and shirt to commemorate the moment. ''But we still have some work to do.

''We're not done. Got to keep going.''

Only fitting that Neil Walker, the kid from Pittsburgh, led the charge with career-high six RBIs, including a three-run homer.

''It's much better to drink the champagne than prepare for the offseason with a week-and-a-half to go,'' Walker said. ''I take great honor of being from the area and growing up with the team and seeing how far we've come. It's no surprise to me where we're at. Trust me, we don't forget where we were. Losing 105 games is something you can't quite explain. It's not fun at all.

''Fortunately, those days are past us here.''

The Pirates secured at least a wild card as they chase first-place St. Louis in the NL Central. They trail by four games with a home series coming up against the Cardinals.

St. Louis and Pittsburgh are the only major league teams to lock up playoff trips so far.

Walker came up big with a soft, two-run single in the first inning and a towering three-run homer in the third off fill-in starter Christian Bergman (3-1). Walker ended his night with a run-scoring single as part of a six-run ninth to break open a tight game.

Charlie Morton allowed the Rockies to climb within a run after being staked to a 7-1 lead. Joe Blanton (4-0) tossed 1 2-3 scoreless innings.

Starling Marte had three hits, including a two-run double. He didn't have the game-winning hit, though, noteworthy because he's delivered it the previous two seasons when the Pirates locked up a playoff spot.

Just when the Pirates appeared on their way to a rout, things got interesting in the fifth after Morton allowed a solo homer to Corey Dickerson and a three-run shot to Tom Murphy, making it 7-6.

Blanton and the bullpen kept the Rockies at bay. Sean Rodriguez hit a three-run double to spark the big ninth.

''That's Denver,'' McCutchen said. ''You're never out of it. Crazy scores and crooked numbers can happen.''

Bergman never found a groove during his second start of the season. He allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings.

''It's always frustrating to have a day like this no matter what role it is, whether it's starting or relieving,'' Bergman said.

Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle was proud of the way his team celebrated in a muted manner. The Pirates (92-60) also reached the playoffs in three consecutive years from 1970-72 and 1990-92.

''What it does is it shows me a lot of growth on their part,'' Hurdle said. ''We still have things in front of us we need to take care of.''


Pirates: 3B Aramis Ramirez sat out after tweaking his groin the night before while legging out a triple. He said he felt it grab on his way from second to third.

Rockies: OF Charlie Blackmon was a late scratch with a stiff neck. ... OF Brandon Barnes left the game with a mild left hamstring strain. ... 3B Nolan Arenado was given the night off after hitting his head while diving for a ball Tuesday. ... Manager Walt Weiss said LHP Jorge De La Rosa won't pitch again this season due to right Achilles tendinitis.


Pirates: LHP Jeff Locke (8-11, 4.48 ERA) will tie a career high with his 30th start of the season Thursday.

Rockies: RHP Chad Bettis (8-5, 4.46) is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in his last two starts - wins over Seattle and San Diego.

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