PHOENIX - Tension gripped the early afternoon in the desert. The report came in that Paul Goldschmidt had a broken hand, courtesy of Ernesto Frieri's pitch Friday night. Would the D-backs seek eye-for-an-eye retribution for their fallen star?
They did, but not until identical circumstances arose: with the Pirates up by four runs in the ninth, on their way to another win, 8-3, over the D-backs on Saturday night.
With the Pirates leading by 5-1 and first base open, Randall Delgado bounced his third pitch off Andrew McCutchen's back -- drawing an immediate ejection from plate umpire Ron Kulpa and the Bucs' postgame ire.
"I understand they want to retaliate because their guy goes down," said McCutchen, who was livid. "There's just a right way to do it."
"The game takes care of itself," said tight-lipped manager Clint Hurdle, who repeated that disclaimer several times, ominously.
"We won," McCutchen said. "That's what matters. So we can show up tomorrow and try to take three out of four."
With one game to go on this rough 10-game west swing, which had begun with two losses in Denver, the Pirates are 5-4 and with the latest win moved within 1 1/2 games of the National League Central lead.
"We've put ourselves in position to have a winning road trip," Hurdle pointed out.
They have done so with two nearly identical blowouts of Arizona, a return to their infamous rope-a-dope tendencies: wait out the starter, take it out on the bullpen. Of their 17 runs the last two games, 15 have come in the eighth and ninth innings.
McCutchen's eighth-inning RBI single off third baseman Andy Marte's glove snapped Saturday night's 1-1 tie, and, as they had the night before, the Bucs didn't know where to stop. Brent Morel applied the eighth-inning punctuation with an RBI double that made it 5-1 and added a two-run single in the ninth.
"I feel like I've been having good at-bats without results," said Morel, who was 1-for-14 when he came off the bench to replace Pedro Alvarez in the seventh inning. "So it was nice to finally have some balls land to help us break open a close game."
Morel's contributions, moving forward, may become more significant. There was a postgame vibe that the Bucs had used up their patience with Alvarez, who made three throws to first base -- none of them cleanly. He bounced two throws short-hopped by Ike Davis and sailed the third over the 6-foot-4 first baseman's head for his 24th error of the season.
"I'll talk to [general manager Neal Huntington], and everything will be taken into consideration," Hurdle said. "You want to take care of every individual player, but you've also got to take care of the team."
While starters Vance Worley and Chase Anderson pitched to a 1-1 standoff through six, Arizona's rookie right-hander did slightly out-pitch his more-veteran opponent. Anderson pitched so well, in fact, they named the park after him.
Anderson allowed only five hits in Chase Field -- to seven off Worley - but one of them gave the Bucs a 1-0 lead in the third in familiar style: an extra-base hit by Josh Harrison. His 10th homer of the season gave him extra-base hits in four consecutive at-bats, as well as a string of seven straight extra-base hits.
Harrison broke that streak with a single in the eighth that turned into his biggest hit of the night, igniting the put-away four-run rally.
"Got to just get on base, set the table for the guys behind me," Harrison said.
The D-backs got even in the fifth, when David Peralta's single drove in the first run off Worley in 14 innings -- and only the second earned run off him in 20 innings.
Jared Hughes took over in the seventh and got out of a bases-loaded jam to earn the sixth victory that befell him when the Bucs rallied in the eighth.
"It got a little dicey there," Hurdle said, "and Hughes made pitches when he had to. And then our offense was able to agains show up in the eighth and ninth."
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.