Perhaps it's only coincidence Andrew McCutchen rediscovered his power stroke about the time Pedro Alvarez started batting cleanup. Since May 5, when Alvarez took over the No. 4 spot, McCutchen, who bats third, was 14 for 30 with three homers and seven RBI entering Thursday night's game.

Conventional wisdom is McCutchen will get more fastballs when he's backed by the threat of Alvarez's boomstick. But manager Clint Hurdle said unless it's Barry Bonds or Albert Pujols, the guy on deck usually doesn't have much effect on a pitcher.

"We talk a lot about protection in the lineup," Hurdle said. "But from what I've seen in the game the last five years, pitchers go at hitters the way they go at 'em, regardless."