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Milwaukee at Pittsburgh

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Milwaukee (32-47)000001000170
Pittsburgh (50-30) «01010000x260

Pirates edge Brewers for eighth straight win

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates have won eight games in a row, and fans are starting to notice.

After all, the Pirates own the best record in all of baseball.

Pittsburgh beat the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 on Saturday night in front of its fifth straight sellout crowd at home. The Pirates have never had that many consecutive capacity crowds since moving into their new ballpark in 2001.

Long the third-most popular team in a three-team town behind the NFL's Steelers and NHL's Penguins, the Pirates are suddenly becoming a hot ticket.

"The energy of the crowds has been unbelievable and we've been soaking it all up," said Pirates closer Jason Grilli, who earned the save. "You absorb it and try to use it to your advantage. We're playing for ourselves but we're also playing for about 40,000 people in the stands and an entire city.

"People are dusting off their Pirates shirts and coming out in droves, and we're trying to give them what they want to see."

Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones homered, and Francisco Liriano pitched six strong innings to lead the surging Pirates.

Alvarez hit his 20th home run with one out in the second inning to extend his hitting streak to 12 games and help the Pirates to their longest winning streak since 2004. Pittsburgh, which has endured 20 consecutive losing seasons, is a major league-best 50-30.

Jones hit a drive to the shrubbery in straightaway center field, his seventh homer, to lead off the fourth inning and increase the Pirates' lead to 2-0.

That was enough for Liriano (7-3), who improved to 4-1 in five home starts this season.

"We're having fun, we're playing hard and we're giving everything we have," Liriano said.

Liriano gave up one run and seven hits in six innings with one walk and six strikeouts. Tony Watson, Mark Melancon and Grilli each pitched one scoreless inning of relief. Grilli recorded his 27th save in 28 opportunities.

"Frankie, for as efficient as he was in giving up one run, there were only about six or seven sequences where he threw back-to-back strikes," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "But when he needed to make a pitch, he made a pitch."

Grilli was pitching for the first time in six days after having his worst outing of the season. He gave up three runs against the Los Angeles Angels in a non-save situation last Sunday before the Pirates held on for a 10-9 win.

"He's our guy," Hurdle said. "He was well-rested and I wasn't the least bit nervous about going to him."

Donovan Hand (0-1) allowed both home runs but turned in a solid five-inning performance in his second major league start.

Hand was pleased with his outing, except for the home run to Alvarez that cleared the right-field stands, hit a tree and bounced into the Allegheny River.

"I tried to go up and in and left a fat pitch over the middle in his hot zone, and he crushed it," said Hand, who pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his first start June 28 against Atlanta. "I was aggressive, which is exactly what I wanted to do, just building off of the last start because they swing it a lot."

Hand has made a good impression on Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.

"I thought Donny threw the ball really well," Roenicke said. "He understands how to pitch. He understands how to throw strikes."

Carlos Gomez had two hits for the Brewers, who lost their fifth straight game. He singled with one out in the sixth inning and scored Milwaukee's run on Yuniesky Betancourt's single with two outs.

Brewers shortstop Jean Segura extended his hitting streak to 11 games, but second baseman Rickie Weeks' run ended at a career-best 13 games.

Pittsburgh has won four straight games against Milwaukee and eight of 10 after losing nine in a row.

"We're playing good baseball," Hurdle said. "It's nice to get to 50 wins but we're just trying to meet the demands of the game, honestly self-evaluate and get better every day. There is still a long way to go."

Notes

  • Milwaukee LF Ryan Braun (bruised left thumb) is scheduled to a swing a bat Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list, retroactive to June 10.
  • Pittsburgh LHP Wandy Rodriguez (strained left forearm) won't make a scheduled rehab start Monday for Triple-A Indianapolis after experiencing discomfort in his forearm Friday during a bullpen session.
  • Pirates RHP Sean Burnett (strained right calf) is scheduled to pitch a simulated game Tuesday. That could be the last step before he is activated from the disabled list.
  • Brewers RF Norichika Aoki didn't start for the first time since May 30 as Roenicke decided to rest him. Aoki pinch-hit in the ninth inning and flied out.
  • The three-game series concludes Sunday with Milwaukee RHP Kyle Lohse (3-6, 3.69) facing Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.81).
 
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Pedro Alvarez hits his 20th home run of the season and extends his hit streak to 12 as he helps the Pirates keep on rolling. (USATSI)
Pedro Alvarez hits his 20th home run of the season and extends his hit streak to 12 as he helps the Pirates keep on rolling. (USATSI)

Players of the Game
Pittsburgh

F. Liriano
IP 6.0
H 7
ER 1
BB 1
K 6
Milwaukee

C. Gomez
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 

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Milwaukee Brewers
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Rickie Weeks, 2B3000101 .233
Jean Segura, SS4010020 .333
Carlos Gomez, CF4120022 .317
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4010012 .274
Jonathan Lucroy, C4000003 .269
Yuniesky Betancourt, 1B3011011 .205
    Norichika Aoki, PH1000000 .290
Sean Halton, RF4010012 .333
Logan Schafer, LF4000001 .214
Donovan Hand, P2010010 .333
    Jeff Bianchi, PH1000000 .261
Totals3417118  
a-lined out for Betancourt in the 9th
b-popped out for Kintzler in the 7th
Batting
3B - Carlos Gomez (9, Liriano)
RBI - Yuniesky Betancourt (32)
2-OUT RBI - Yuniesky Betancourt (9)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Weeks-Betancourt
Milwaukee Brewers
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Donovan Hand (L,0-1) 5522022 2.63
Brandon Kintzler 1100020 3.66
John Axford 1000010 3.97
Jim Henderson 1000010 1.88
Pitches-Strikes - Donovan Hand 64-53, Brandon Kintzler 18-10, John Axford 15-10, Jim Henderson 9-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Donovan Hand 9-3, Brandon Kintzler 1-0, John Axford 1-1
Batters Faced - Donovan Hand 19, Brandon Kintzler 4, John Axford 3, Jim Henderson 3
Pittsburgh Pirates
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Starling Marte, LF4010000 .287
Russell Martin, C4010020 .244
Andrew McCutchen, CF3010003 .293
Garrett Jones, RF3111001 .260
Pedro Alvarez, 3B3111021 .247
Neil Walker, 2B3000000 .251
Gaby Sanchez, 1B3000010 .239
Jordy Mercer, SS3010000 .286
Francisco Liriano, P2000011 .059
    Travis Snider, RF1000000 .230
Totals2926206  
Batting
2B - Starling Marte (15, Hand)
HR - Garrett Jones (7, Hand), Pedro Alvarez (20, Hand)
RBI - Garrett Jones (32), Pedro Alvarez (53)
SB - Russell Martin (5, 2nd base off Hand/Lucroy), Andrew McCutchen (16, 2nd base off Kintzler/Lucroy)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Mercer-Walker-G. Sanchez
Pittsburgh Pirates
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Francisco Liriano (W,7-3) 6711160 2.23
Tony Watson (H,12) 1000000 3.86
Mark Melancon (H,23) 1000020 0.92
Jason Grilli (S,27) 1000000 1.77
WP - Mark Melancon (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 91-58, Tony Watson 11-8, Mark Melancon 20-14, Jason Grilli 6-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 8-3, Tony Watson 1-2, Mark Melancon 2-0, Jason Grilli 2-1
Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 25, Tony Watson 3, Mark Melancon 4, Jason Grilli 3
Game Information
Attendance - 38438
Game Time - 2:40
Temperature - 76
Umpires - Home - Marvin Hudson, First Base - David Rackley, Second Base - Tim McClelland, Third Base - Marty Foster