Bud Black went to his ace closer, Greg Holland, with two out and the tying run at the plate in the top of the eighth inning. Holland threw one pitch to Josh Bell (who had killed the Rockies one night earlier). When Holland threw his next pitch, his team was leading 7-2 and looking at a comfortable victory. Holland didn’t make it easy, though, in earning his 31st save of the season.

Colorado gave the MLB saves leader a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to grab game two of a three-game series with the red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates and move into a tie for the Wild Card in the National League. Alexi Amarista, who was inserted into the lineup as part of a double-switch when Holland came in, had an RBI double in the eighth, and DJ LeMahieu had an RBI single to give Holland some breathing room heading into the bottom of the ninth. He would need it.

Holland allowed a leadoff single and then a walk to open the ninth. He induced a fly ball to right, but then walked Jordy Mercer to load the bases. Holland struck out the pinch-hitting Jose Osuna for the second out. Starling Marte hit a 2-2 infield single to short to push the score to 7-3 with the bases still loaded. Josh Harrison worked Holland, but flew out to center to end it.

German Marquez (8-4, 4.20 ERA) earned the win for Colorado on the back of seven sterling innings. The young right-hander allowed two runs on three hits, striking out nine and walking two. His first-inning run allowed was the only sign of real trouble in another great start for the 22-year-old. Jake McGee worked into the trouble that Holland had to relieve in the eighth, allowing a hit and a pair of walks.

Colorado grabbed a 3-1 lead in the third inning off Pirates starter Chad Kuhl (3-7, 4.92). LeMahieu opened things with a sac fly to score Marquez, who singled to raise his average to .214 on the year. Nolan Arenado doubled in Charlie Blackmon next, then Mark Reynolds drove in Arenado with a single. Bell homered in the top of the fourth to answer, but Trevor Story responded in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI single to score Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez had a pair of hits and a walk before Amarista relieved him in the double-switch.

Gonzalez was at the center of drama in the sixth inning when both benches cleared. In the top half of the inning Marquez hit McCutchen with a 94 MPH fastball on the first pitch of the at-bat. McCutchen took offense, but eventually made his way to first base. Then, with the first pitch of the bottom half of the inning, Kuhl came inside on Gonzaelz, nearly hitting him. Both benches emptied, but no punches were thrown and no one was ejected.

Colorado is now 57-42, tied with Arizona (56-41), who lost to Washington at home, for the NL Wild Card. The loss is only the third since July 4 (15 games) for Pittsburgh. The two teams will play the rubber game of the series Sunday at 1:10 p.m MDT. Ivan Nova and Kyle Freeland are scheduled to start.