PHOENIX — The Pittsburgh Pirates knew it was only a matter of time before the hits started falling.
Now that they are, the Pirates are on a roll. A small one, but a roll nonetheless.
Garrett Jones had three hits and two RBIs, Starling Marte drove in two runs and scored twice, and Pittsburgh beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 on Tuesday night for its first winning streak of the season.
“We’ve got some guys that can hit and they’re going to hit. We’re not going to hit .120 all year long,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We got some balls to hit, so we feel like we can compete in the box, stretch out some at-bats, and we’ve been able to do that the last couple of nights.”
The Pirates labored through their first six games, scoring eight runs while losing five times. The dry desert air and wide-open spaces of Chase Field have done them good.
Pittsburgh won the series opener 5-3 and kept hitting on a chilly night with the roof open, rapping out 11 hits.
The Pirates fell into an early hole after James McDonald (1-1) allowed four runs in the first inning, but rallied with a five-run fourth off Arizona starter Brandon McCarthy (0-1).
Neil Walker drove in two runs in Pittsburgh’s big inning and the bullpen was solid the rest of the way, with Jason Grilli getting through the ninth for his third save.
“In the early going, the first couple of series, we just had a hard time getting things going,” Walker said. “Tonight we were able to drive some balls, get in some big situations.”
Arizona got off to a great start with a two-run double by Miguel Montero and Jason Kubel’s two-run homer in the first.
McCarthy gave it all back, though, and the Diamondbacks couldn’t recover. They scored a run on Montero’s sacrifice fly in the seventh but lost consecutive games for the first time this season.
“All in all, it was a game we didn’t play very well,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “We didn’t execute when we needed to and they did. They out-executed us and their (relievers) came in and pounded us hard late in the game.”
McDonald dropped his first start due to a lack of run support, losing to the Cubs despite allowing a run in seven innings.
The right-hander got off to a rough start against the Diamondbacks, walking two of the first three batters he faced before giving up a two-run double to Montero and Kubel’s two-run homer that put Arizona up 4-1.
McDonald was sharp after that, though, holding the Diamondbacks in check until he walked Paul Goldschmidt to lead off the sixth.
McDonald allowed four runs on four hits, with five strikeouts and four walks.
“The one thing James was able to do was compete,” Hurdle said. “The first inning wasn’t very good. He was able to make some adjustments, did regroup and he fought the next four innings.”
Unlike his previous start, the Pirates gave McDonald some help.
Coming off a horrific injury after a line drive hit him in the head last September, McCarthy wasn’t particularly sharp in his Diamondbacks debut, allowing six runs on nine hits in five-plus innings against the Cardinals on April 3. He didn’t get a decision, though, after Arizona won 10-9 in 16 innings.
He needed more help from the Diamondbacks’ bats after another not-so-great performance.
McCarthy gave up a run in the first inning on Jones’ run-scoring single before stranding runners at second and third. He induced an inning-ending double play to escape another jam in the second, but things fell apart in the fourth, starting when Kubel misplayed a liner in right by Pedro Alvarez for an error.
Marte followed with a two-run double, Walker knocked in two more with a single — ending an 0-for-21 streak — and Jones put the Pirates up 6-4 with a run-scoring single.
McCarthy allowed six runs — four earned — and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings, but thought he threw the ball much better than the results showed.
“There was no problem with consistency, there was no problem with anything,” he said. “For the way I felt and the way I threw it, it was an unacceptable outing.”
Montero hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to cut the deficit to 6-5, but Mark Melancon worked a perfect eighth and Grilli got Aaron Hill on a popup after giving up a two-out hit to Martin Prado.
NOTES: The Diamondbacks committed two errors after making one in their first seven games. ... Arizona LHP Wade Miley will pitch today against the Pirates after a stellar opening start. The runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year last season, he allowed one run in six innings with eight strikeouts to beat the Brewers on April 5. ... LHP Jonathan Sanchez will pitch for the Pirates in the third game of the series after allowing three runs and six hits over five-plus innings in his Pittsburgh debut against the Dodgers on Friday night.