06/18/09 12:50 AM ET
Brotherly love: LaRoches go deep in win
McCutchen, Adam and Andy homer to give Snell victory
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
Led by Snell's six-inning effort and three Pittsburgh homers, the Pirates stole an 8-2 win from the Twins on Wednesday night in front of 30,057 fans at the Metrodome.
The Pirates entered the Interleague contest with a Major League-low 37 home runs, a total that six other clubs had at least doubled. But for one night, at least, they'd ride the long ball.
It started in the third, when Andrew McCutchen took a 2-2 pitch from Twins lefty Francisco Liriano and lifted it into the left-field stands for his first big league homer and an early Pirates lead. Fortunately for McCutchen, the fan who retrieved the ball in the stands threw it back onto the field, ensuring the rookie of another keepsake to add to his month's collection.
"I wanted it," McCutchen said of the memento. "I guess they knew, too. It felt real good. I probably didn't think about it that much, but will think about it more when I get home and let it settle for a little bit."
McCutchen's homer and seventh-inning single later in the contest gave him his sixth multihit game since making his Major League debut 13 games ago. The center fielder has hit safely in six straight contests and is enjoying a .339 average two weeks into his Major League career.
The LaRoche brothers would then team up to accomplish something that hadn't been done by Pirates players in 71 years, as they both homered by game's end. Andy LaRoche took his turn first, connecting for a two-run shot in the fourth that drove in his brother, Adam.
While Andy LaRoche's homer gave the Pirates a 4-2 lead, it also served as a bit of redemption for the one that wasn't one night earlier. LaRoche had been robbed of a homer by Minnesota left fielder Delmon Young on Tuesday, but he was able to deposit this one deep enough in the left-field stands to be safe.
"It came off the bat the exact same, a little off the end of the bat," LaRoche said of the two hits. "This one, I wasn't counting my chickens too early. I still expected him to catch it, but when he stopped and looked up, it was a little bit of a relief."
Adam LaRoche then matched his younger brother with a solo homer in the eighth, making the brothers the first Pittsburgh pair to homer in the same game since Paul and Lloyd Waner did so against the New York Giants on Sept. 15, 1938.
"Well, I can't be outdone," Adam LaRoche later joked. "It's something we've talked about. We've waited for one day for it to maybe happen. It's pretty cool. It's pretty special. Hopefully, we can do that for a couple more times."
"It's pretty exciting, me and Adam both getting a home run in the same game," his younger brother added. "It's an incredible feeling.
The homer was also part of a two-hit, two-RBI night for the elder LaRoche, who is hitting .375 this month.
"It was nice to finally score some runs for Ian," Adam LaRoche said. "Lately, we haven't given him a lot of support. To give him some runs early and let him settle in was nice for a change."
The right-hander felt the same relief.
"I couldn't stop smiling after a while because I saw seven runs on the board against a good team," said Snell, who has been plagued by limited run support -- particularly on the road -- this season.
Adam LaRoche's homer also keyed a three-run eighth that gave the Pirates a significant cushion in a game where Minnesota's offense consistently remained one hit away from tying things up. No truer was that than in the seventh, when, with reliever John Grabow in for Snell, the Twins loaded the bases with one out.
However, Grabow responded with a strikeout of cleanup hitter Jason Kubel and induced an inning-ending groundout to escape the jam and preserve the lead that Snell had handed over after six solid innings.
"I thought he really showed a lot of guts to get through that inning," manager John Russell said. "It could have been a totally different game."
Snell snapped a 10-game personal winless streak with the victory. His last win -- and only one previously this season -- came against Atlanta on April 18. He pitched rather well for most of the start, though he watched his pitch count rapidly elevate during Minnesota's two-run third. Snell needed 41 pitches to escape the inning.
To his credit, however, the righty bounced back and faced only 11 hitters while getting his final 10 outs.
"It seems like Ian later in the game is really good," Russell said. "We've just got to figure out how to get him over the hump. But I can't take too much away from his start. He did battle. He did pretty well to hold a team down like this."
The quality start was Snell's third straight, marking the first time he's strung together three consecutive quality starts this year.
"I'm getting myself back on track," said Snell, who is now 2-7 this year. "I was nibbling on the corners a little bit [early]. [Pitching coach] Joe [Kerrigan] told me to man up and start pounding the zone."
With Wednesday's win, the Pirates are now 4-4 against the American League this season. Pittsburgh is also in position to claim its first Interleague series win on the road since doing so against Tampa Bay in 2003.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.