The All-Star outfielder seems unlikely to cool down with a visit to hitter-friendly Coors Field up next.
McCutchen looks to continue his torrid pace as the Pirates and Colorado Rockies open a three-game set Monday night.
Batting an MLB-best .458 with 11 homers, 31 RBIs and 30 runs scored since June 10, McCutchen has played a huge role in Pittsburgh's recent success.
Despite dropping two of three at Milwaukee over the weekend, the second-place Pirates (49-39) enter this series winners of 11 of 15 and sit one game behind Cincinnati for the NL Central lead.
McCutchen provided the only offense for Pittsburgh during Sunday's 4-1 defeat, going 3 for 4 with his fifth homer in four games.
"He is as good a player as there is in the league," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle , who spent the first eight years of his managerial career with Colorado. "He is playing at an elite level, all across the board. He has earned his name being in those (MVP) conversations at this point. But it is still early. We've all got work to do."
McCutchen has a chance to become the first Pirate to homer in five straight games since Jose Castillo from May 26-31, 2006. He's batting .429 with a pair of long balls during a modest five-game hitting streak in Colorado, and could be in for another monster series given the Rockies' struggles on the mound.
Colorado owns a major league-high 5.25 staff ERA and has surrendered an NL-worst 113 homers.
Drew Pomeranz was the latest Rockies starter to get hit hard, giving up all five runs in Sunday's 5-1 loss to Philadelphia. The Rockies (34-54) have compiled a 6.53 ERA while dropping 12 of their last 16 home games.
They'll try to bounce back behind Jeff Francis (2-2, 5.19 ERA), who's been possibly their best pitcher of late, going 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA while issuing just three walks over his last five starts spanning 26 innings.
"I love playing for this team," Francis told MLB's official website. "They gave me a shot, and so far I've pitched well to take advantage of that. Hopefully, it sticks."
Francis, though, wasn't very sharp the last time he took the mound, yielding three runs over five innings of a 4-1 defeat at Washington on July 7.
The left-hander is 3-3 with a 6.88 ERA in six career starts against the Pirates, who he hasn't faced since 2010.
Pittsburgh counters with Jeff Karstens (2-2, 3.94), who was superb in winning each of his final two outings before the All-Star break. After allowing two runs over seven innings of a 7-3 victory at St. Louis, the right-hander struck out a season-high eight in eight innings of four-hit ball July 5 to defeat Houston 2-0.
"When you face a guy that throws 90 with a slow breaking ball, it's not only hard to hit the breaking ball but hard to hit the fastball, too," Astros second baseman Jose Altuve said. "You get caught between those two pitches."
Though he's never started against the Rockies, Karstens has had his way with several of their hitters. Tyler Colvin is 0 for 8 lifetime against Karstens, while Carlos Gonzalez and Marco Scutaro are both 0 for 3.
Pittsburgh, which took two of three from Colorado at home April 24-25, has won four of six at Coors Field.
|July 05, 2012||Alex Presley||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 03, 2012||Alex Presley||Day-to-Day||Left game - concussion-like symptoms|
|June 30, 2012||Andrew McCutchen||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained left wrist|
|June 25, 2012||Rod Barajas||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left knee|
|May 30, 2012||Charlie Morton||60-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|May 10, 2012||Daniel McCutchen||15-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|July 09, 2012||Todd Helton||15-Day DL||Right hip inflammation|
|July 09, 2012||Wil Nieves||15-Day DL||Turf toe, right foot|
|July 04, 2012||Jason Giambi||Day-to-Day||Stiff back|
|June 17, 2012||Carlos Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Sore right hamstring|
|June 03, 2012||Juan Nicasio||15-Day DL||Strained left knee|
|June 02, 2012||Jordan Pacheco||Day-to-Day||Sore left quadricep|
DENVER (AP) -- Dexter Fowler 's strong defense and confident swing sent the Colorado Rockies to a rain-soaked victory.
Fowler made a leaping catch early in the game and hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning to help Colorado overcome a tying, three-run homer by Pedro Alvarez in a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.
Fowler extended his tear at the plate with his 14th hit in seven games, but it was an out that won it for Colorado.
Wilin Rosario led off the ninth with a single against reliever Jason Grilli (1-3) and moved to third on a one-out single by pinch-hitter Jason Giambi . Fowler hit a deep fly to Andrew McCutchen in center field and Rosario slid home ahead of the throw.
"I knew he was going to throw me a lot of sliders, but I was waiting on a fastball and he threw me one," Fowler said. "We knew we were going to put something together."
The Rockies were ready to celebrate an easier win an hour earlier when weather and Alvarez disrupted that plan.
Intermittent rain, heavy at times, fell throughout the night and finally prompted a 53-minute rain delay with one out in the top of the ninth and Colorado leading 4-1. McCutchen and Neil Walker singled off closer Rafael Betancourt , and with Alvarez at the plate the tarp was brought out.
"It's just tough because you've got to sit down for so long and resume play like nothing happened," Alvarez said. "You've got the adrenaline going before the rain delay and you just get kind of stagnant."
After play resumed, Alvarez hit reliever Rex Brother's first pitch, a 98 mph fastball, into the left-field seats to tie the score at 4.
"A guy like that, you've got to try not to do too much and try to work with what he gives you," Alvarez said after his 18th home run. "I was just trying to go up there and try to get on base."
Brothers (5-2) got the win despite serving up the tying homer.
"I threw my best pitch and he put a swing on it," Brothers said. "The main thing was we got out of that inning and won it in the bottom."
Walker had three hits and McCutchen added two for the Pirates, who have lost three of four.
"For the fans that stuck around, that was a pretty exciting last 20 minutes," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I was very happy with the battle back. You never know what's going to happen."
Earlier in the game, Fowler used his glove to save the Rockies when he ran down Rod Barajas ' deep fly at the wall in center to end the second inning.
"He told me he's glad he's not playing in the NL West anymore so I can't rob him," Fowler said. "That's a good feeling. It's always a good feeling to help the team."
The Rockies were held in check by Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens until they broke through in the fifth. Tyler Colvin led off with walk, Rosario singled him to third and Josh Rutledge drove in Colvin with another single.
Eric Young Jr., batting for starter Jeff Francis , drove a two-run double off the scoreboard in right field to make it 3-1. Young scored on Marco Scutaro 's single.
Francis allowed one run and six hits, struck out one and didn't walk a batter in five innings.
Karstens was cruising before the fifth, retiring seven straight and allowing just three baserunners. He also contributed at the plate in the fifth.
With one out and Alvarez on first, Clint Barmes singled to left and Karstens followed with a grounder that bounced near the plate and over first baseman Michael Cuddyer for an RBI single to make it 1-0.
"I was trying to see the ball deep and hit it the other way," Karstens said. "I got lucky. I was thinking, I hope he can't jump."
It was Karstens' first RBI this season and the third of his career.
The right-hander allowed four runs and six hits, struck out four and walked two in seven innings.
NOTES: The Rockies said INF Chris Nelson was admitted to a hospital to undergo tests for an irregular heartbeat and will remain hospitalized overnight. ... The Pirates activated outfielder Alex Presley from the seven-day concussion disabled list and optioned first baseman Matt Hague to Triple-A Indianapolis. ... Rockies RHP Juan Nicasio had surgery on his left knee and will likely miss the rest of the season. ... Walker extended his hitting streak to 16 games. ... The Pirates will send LHP Erik Bedard (4-10) to the mound against Rockies LHP Christian Friedrich (5-6) on Tuesday.