PHOENIX -- Tuesday night's big matchup was supposed to be between Jeff Karstens and Ian Kennedy. Instead, it became the Pirates vs. adversity.The Pirates won that, along with the game, willing their way over the D-backs, 5-4, when Andrew McCutchen's fourth hit of the game capped the last comeback they would need. McCutchen's RBI single converted a two-out tiebreaking rally in the ninth begun by Alex Presley's infield single and continued with Casey McGehee's pinch-hit single. "The unexpected happened, which is when you find out what kind of a club you are," McCutchen said. "To be able to do what we did, we should be able to go from here." Unexpected? The Pirates lost their starting pitcher after one inning. They knew they also did not have their closer, as Joel Hanrahan was unavailable with a tight right hamstring. In Hanrahan's shoes, Juan Cruz became the fifth and final hammer out of the bullpen, working a perfect ninth for his first save since May 24, 2009. "Absolutely, a big-time gut check," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Our starter goes down in the first. We're the only ones in the park who know we don't have our closer. Duct tape, chicken wire and spit for eight innings, and we got it done." They got it done because Jared Hughes, Tony Watson, Evan Meek, Jason Grilli and Cruz shuttled out of the bullpen to pitch four-hit ball over the final eight innings. "You just go clap-clap -- applaud the bullpen for the way they stepped up," McCutchen said. The bullpen returned the clap-clap for the middle of the Pittsburgh batting order. McCutchen, Neil Walker and Garrett Jones combined to go 10-for-14, with four runs scored and five RBIs. The Pirates' lineup coming into game No. 11 was being called ridiculous. But 10-for-14 is ridiculous of a different sort. Two innings after Karstens' exit with a shoulder inflammation that will be further evaluated upon the club's return to Pittsburgh, the Bucs erased a 3-1 deficit with two runs. They added a run in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead. Arizona had drawn into a 4-4 tie on John McDonald's homer with one out in the eighth off Grilli. "Missed location with one pitch," said Hurdle, referring to the bullpen's entire night. "I didn't have McDonald hitting a homer; I didn't have that card in my pocket." The Pirates' first three scoring innings all had one thing in common: Jones, who singled for a run in the first, doubled in the the third to drive in the run that created the 3-3 tie that he snapped with a solo homer in the sixth. The Karstens-Kennedy rematch was quite different from the last time the two right-handers hooked up. In that Sept. 19, 2011, duel here, Karstens took a 1-0 defeat as Kennedy won his 20th game of the season. This time, Kennedy's pitches were hit hard, and Karstens hardly pitched. "To do what we did, with the guy they had on the mound, their ace ... an all-around good team effort," McCutchen said. If forced into a bullpen game, the Pirates at least had the proper bullpen for the task. The first man on the line, the rookie Hughes, gave up one run in his 2 2/3 innings, and was rescued from more trouble by Watson. The D-backs already held a 3-1 lead and were prowling for more with two outs in the fourth and runners at the corners. At that point, Hurdle channeled his inner Alexander Graham Bell and said into the bullpen phone, "Watson, I need you." Watson entered to end that threat with a strikeout of Willie Bloomquist, and went on to pitch 2 1/3 hitless innings. "Guys had to go in situations they're not normally in," Watson said, "and everyone thrived. Everyone down there [in the bullpen] knows what he's capable of doing: throw strikes, eat up some innings." "Those guys deserve all the credit," said Grilli, who was referring to his bullpen pals, but who actually was the one who picked up the victory. "They picked up that slack big time. Hughes is an insane guy, always freaking ready to take the ball. "As a reliever, you know what your job is: Go in and pick each other up. That's what it's all about. All the other stuff is just fluff and it's sexy, but being a reliever means the name of the game is get outs, pick the team up and give the team a chance to win." The Pittsburgh bullpen complied with that definition to a W.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.