Bucs 'pen on roll: Riding 16-game win streak

Bucs 'pen on roll: Riding 16-game win streak

NEW YORK -- On June 25, Rob Scahill served up a 13th-inning home run to Brandon Phillips and took a 5-4 loss to the Reds at PNC Park.

Thereafter, two things happened: The very next day, Scahill went on the DL, where he remains with tightness in the forearm; and Pirates relievers decided to not lose again.

Sunday's 8-1 victory over the Mets, earned by Arquimedes Caminero as the Bucs broke a 1-1 tie after he replaced starter Jeff Locke following a 42-minute rain delay, was the Buccos bullpen's 16th straight winning decision, the longest such streak in the Majors since 1909, when Pirates relievers bagged 22 straight wins on the way to the franchise's first of five World Series championships.

"They stay ready, always looking for opportunities to help, to pick the last guy up," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Since that June 25 loss to Cincinnati, the Pirates have also won seven straight extra-inning games, and five walk-offs that have given them a total of 13 last at-bat wins. It is all testimony to a bullpen that became even stouter at non-waiver Trade Deadline time.

The Pirates rode a solid collective effort from relievers to strong first halves in both 2013 and '14, but the toll of a heavy workload became evident in the second halves of both seasons. The Bucs' quest for reinforcements did not grade well -- remember Kyle Farnsworth in 2013, John Axford in '14?

Blanton's impressive relief work

"It's just so important to have that veteran available to come in and pitch long in a situation like that," Francisco Cervelli said after catching Joe Blanton's three shutout innings in Saturday night's 5-3 win in 14 innings.

Touching all the bases
• First: Hurdle kept center fielder Andrew McCutchen and shortstop Jung Ho Kang out of Sunday's lineup, notwithstanding ace Matt Harvey going for the Mets.

"These guys, when they get tired, you gotta get 'em out," Hurdle said. "This is based on eye-test."

Starling Marte, returning after missing three starts with a bruised left hand, started in center. Travis Ishikawa was in left, and Pedro Florimon at short.

• Second: The Bucs went with Ishikawa in left and Sean Rodriguez at third on Thursday in St. Louis after losing the first two games to the Cardinals; they won, 10-5, that day, knocking out Lance Lynn in the first inning.

• Third: Backup catcher Chris Stewart's go-ahead pinch-hit single in the 14th inning on Saturday gave him extra-inning hits in his last five extra-inning games. He'd been 1-for-16 in extra innings entering this season.

• Home: While they hunted their 13th sweep of the season on Sunday, Saturday's win already improved the Bucs' series record to 21-13-5.

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 and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.