HOU@PIT: McCutchen slaps a solo homer to left-center

PITTSBURGH -- Starling Marte was due to miss his second start of the season, left out of the Pirates' original lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Astros. Instead, Andrew McCutchen missed his second start, scratched with a sore right knee.

McCutchen reported the discomfort following pregame batting practice and was set down as a precaution. An immediate doctor's exam confirmed the lack of structural damage, and McCutchen was confident of being able to resume playing following Monday's off-day.

"I just felt a little uncomfortable, and wanted to make sure everything was OK," said McCutchen, who revealed having felt some irregularity in the joint since Thursday's game against the Brewers.

"There was a small play where I slid home, and came up not feeling right. Something caused an uncomfortable feeling, so I wanted to check everything out. I didn't want to jeopardize the rest of the season. Better safe than sorry. I didn't want to sit out today, it's just something I had to do, but we were able to get a win, so it's OK. And I should be good to go [Tuesday]."

"I didn't want to play him [after McCutchen reported the discomfort]," manager Clint Hurdle said. "After our doctors saw him, he felt better about his situation."

"Yeah," McCutchen agreed, "it was a lot better than just sitting on it not knowing what was happening."

First number, last word

3: Wins by A.J. Burnett in 10 starts this season. He has not opened a season with three wins through his first 11 starts since 2006, his first with the Toronto Blue Jays.

"The barometric pressure? I don't know … but the park does seem to be playing bigger now. At night, the ball has not carried as well as it did last year." -- Hurdle on offense downtrending early this season in PNC Park, and whether the uncommonly chilly weather has had anything to do with it

Worth noting

• Shortstop Chase d'Arnaud, on the 60-day DL with a partially torn ligament in his left thumb, was due to play seven innings for Double-A Altoona on both Sunday and Monday as he continues his rehab.

• James McDonald's road back from right-shoulder discomfort has been paved: He is due to throw a pair of bullpen sessions -- on Tuesday and Friday -- then depart to Altoona to make his first rehab start next Monday. McDonald's target in that Double-A outing will be four innings or 65 pitches, a relatively high bar for a first rehab start.

• Getting scratched from Sunday's lineup had to be tough to take for McCutchen, aside from the discomfort in his right knee that forced the move during batting practice: He is a .463 hitter in his last 17 Interleague games, plus had hit .403 in his last 19 games against Houston.