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CHC@PIT: McDonald allows two hits, fans four in loss

Perhaps Chase Field can cure what ails the Pirates and their struggling offense.

In danger of losing five in a row, the Pirates scored more than three runs for the first time this season on Monday night in their 5-3 win in the series opener against the D-backs in Phoenix.

The Pirates are now hitting .267 (56-for-210) with seven home runs and 23 runs scored in their past six games at Chase Field. They improved to 2-5 on the year, while the D-backs lost for just the second time in seven games.

"You just have to keep battling," said Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez. "We've faced some tough pitching, but it's wishful thinking saying, 'Get them out of here right now.' We have to keep working hard, try to learn as much as we can from these at-bats, and take that into the future."

The Pirates have scored just 13 runs in their first seven ballgames of the year. They'll be tasked with continuing to try to find offense against D-backs starter Brandon McCarthy, who is famously working his way back from a head injury incurred when he was hit by a line drive last year.

McCarthy admits it's something he'd like to put behind him -- everything from the questions to the television replays.

"It's now been about answering the questions about answering the questions," McCarthy said. "It's gone to a whole new cycle that I've gotten tired of. I don't know if it'll go to a third. It's going beyond what I thought it would. ... But at least it's full circle now, I'm back and I can settle back in."

The righty struggled in his D-backs debut -- allowing six runs on nine hits in five innings against St. Louis -- though it was largely overlooked after the contest went 16 innings.

"Everything kept missing an inch up or an inch down," McCarthy said. "Most days you get away with it, but it was a weird day. It felt like the ball was going to go where I wanted to, but it just didn't get there."

Pirates: McDonald hits the road
Right-hander James McDonald pitched well in his first start of the year -- he scattered two hits, two walks and a run over seven innings in a tough-luck loss to the Cubs -- but now takes some discouraging road splits with him to Chase Field on Tuesday.

In his career, McDonald is 16-9 with a 3.03 ERA at home, but 14-20 with a 5.30 mark away from PNC Park. In 45 fewer road innings, he has given up 13 more home runs.

He is 2-2 with a 5.28 ERA all-time against the D-backs, and 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA at Chase Field.

D-backs: Goldschmidt on a roll
After going 1-for-3 with a double, a run and an RBI on Monday night, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt now has an RBI in five straight games. It ties the longest such streak of his career, set Sept. 18-22 last year.

• Arizona pitchers have struck out at least 10 batters in six of their first seven games, after setting a franchise record with double-digit strikeouts in each of their first four games.

Worth noting
• The D-backs have led in all but one game (Monday) this season.

• Pirates second baseman Neil Walker has hit safely in five of his last six games played in Arizona and is hitting .276 (8-for-29) in seven games at Chase Field.

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