PITTSBURGH -- Cathy McGrath, who has survived with and worked to raise awareness of breast cancer for nearly a quarter-century, was celebrated as the Pirates' Honorary Bat Girl prior to Sunday night's game at PNC Park.
The Buccos fan from Charleroi, Pa., delivered the ceremonial first pitch before the Pirates took on the Cardinals, then sat back to enjoy Pittsburgh's first Sunday night game in 18 years from the Pirates Charities Luxury Suite.
McGrath has undergone 30 radiation treatments and six-plus years of medication therapy since her 1991 diagnosis.
Besides getting well, she has devoted her energies to bringing attention to breast cancer, focusing on the vitality of regular self-examinations.
In coordination with the Pittsburgh branch of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, McGrath has hosted numerous functions for the cause, from fundraisers to awareness luncheons.
MLB's Honorary Bat Girl program was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative celebrated on Mother's Day. Honorees for each of the 30 teams are chosen primarily by fan votes on HonoraryBatGirl.com, with input from a judging panel that includes ballplayers Evan Longoria, Freddie Freeman and Pablo Sandoval.
Cutch good to go for finale against Cardinals
PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen was back in the Pirates' lineup on Sunday night, after missing his first game of the season to allow a sore left foot to make a remarkable recovery.
"I'm ready to go, to try to keep this momentum going," said McCutchen, alluding to the four-game winning streak the Bucs took into the series finale against the Cardinals. "Go out there and try to get another win."
McCutchen had tweaked the foot when landing awkwardly following a futile leap at the center-field fence for Allen Craig's fourth-inning homer in Friday night's game. He completed that game, but was convinced to take Saturday's off.
"I didn't even want to take that off. Whatever I can do to help the team and not hurt myself, I guess," McCutchen said.
"He never likes to [miss a game]," manager Clint Hurdle saidd, "but another area in which he has grown and matured is understanding the bigger picture. We had a very good conversation in [my office] and we all felt it was best to do what we did."
Given McCutchen's attitude, little thought was given to having him also sit Sunday night which, with the off-day on Monday, would have given him three straight days' rest.
"He went through a battery of tests, and things he wasn't capable of doing [Saturday] he is today," Hurdle said. "He's, 'If I can go, I want to go.' Last night, there wasn't really a 'Go' button to go to. He feels there is today."
Competing well enough to take down St. Louis, 4-3, on Saturday without their Most Valuable Player -- and even with other factors forcing infielders Gaby Sanchez and Jordy Mercer into outfield play -- gave the Bucs an unexpected boost.
"When you can get through a game like that, it shows the other guys and [McCutchen] what they're capable of without him in the lineup. A lot of good stuff can come from it."
First number, last word
.341: Ike Davis' batting average at PNC Park in his first 14 home games since being acquired from the Mets on April 18.
"Me and Brent hang out all the time, so I was happy for him but jokingly told him, 'You'll get sent down, and I'll get called up.'" -- Jaff Decker, who joined the Pirates on Sunday when called up from Indianapolis to indeed replace infielder Brent Morel, who returned to the Triple-A club two days after his recall.
• Right-hander Jason Grilli (strained left oblique) threw another 25-pitch bullpen Sunday, which he rated as "even better" than Friday's session, and will next pitch a simulated game Wednesday while the club is in Milwaukee. The step after that will be determined based on how he feels in its aftermath.
• Starling Marte (lower back tightness) missed his first game of the season Sunday night and manager Clint Hurdle admitted not knowing whether the outfielder might be ready to play Tuesday following two days off. Apparently, medics treating Marte are trying to determine whether a disabled list stint is in order.
• The absence of Marte (who had come off the bench in the previous four starts he missed) reduced the scroll to two Pirates players who have played in each of the team's 37 games (including Sunday night): Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez.
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.