J-Hay's walk-off in 11th helps Bucs keep pace

J-Hay's walk-off in 11th helps Bucs keep pace

PITTSBURGH -- For the Pirates, can one comeback beget another? They are eager to find out, after one of their better comebacks of the season on Sunday continued their efforts to come all the way back from a big National League Central deficit to the Cardinals. Josh Harrison's 11th-inning single gave the Bucs a 7-6 win over the Brewers, who led, 6-1, after 3 1/2 innings at PNC Park It was Pittsburgh's 38th comeback win of the season, and the biggest yet, the first after being five runs down.

Their 10th walk-off win of the season kept the Pirates within 2 1/2 games of St. Louis, who they have trailed in the NL Central standings all season, and by as many as nine games on June 28. The victory also boosted the Bucs' No. 1 Wild Card lead to four games over the Cubs, on the eve of a four-game series between the Cardinals' pursuers.

Harrison's one-out single off Tyler Thornburg scored Pedro Florimon, who was pinch-running for Travis Ishikawa after he had led off with a pinch-hit single. The base hit was juggled in left field by Shane Peterson for an error that allowed Ishikawa to take second, before Florimon continued to third on Jordy Mercer's groundout. Sean Rodriguez was hit by a pitch with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch to simplify Harrison's approach.

"Once it got to second-and-third, I just got to see something up. If I get a hit, I get hit, but my main objective was to see something up that I can handle and hit to the outfield," Harrison said after the fifth walk-off hit of his career.

The Pirates erased the last of Milwaukee's 6-1 lead, built mostly at the expense of an ineffective Francisco Liriano, on seventh-inning RBI singles by Andrew McCutchen and Jung Ho Kang. Khris Davis' two-run homer in the third, minutes after the left fielder had robbed Francisco Cervelli of a home run, keyed the Brewers' early attack.

Cutch's RBI single

"It was a good game. Jumped off to an early start and they battled back," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "There were some big moments on both sides."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rob a homer, hit a homer: Davis was responsible for three runs within a four-batter span -- one he saved and two he drove in. With one out in the second inning, Davis executed a perfectly timed jump at the left-field wall to rob Cervelli of a solo homer, one that would've been the Pirates' second straight off Taylor Jungmann. After Ryan Braun's leadoff single in the third, Davis hit a ball where nobody could rob it: into the bushes beyond the center-field wall for a two-run homer.

Davis robs home run

"He left it a little bit up, and I put a good swing on it," Davis said. "I was happy it just barely snuck out." More >

The wrong stuff: In what can only be described as "one of those days," Liriano showed up, but his stuff didn't. He was hit hard and often enough to allow seven hits and five runs (four earned) in only 2 1/3 innings -- not his briefest outing of the season. He had another one of those days on May 19, when he lasted two innings against the Twins.

"With where we are in the season, what you're seeing with your eyes, the way the bats are playing. … What Frankie had wasn't going to be competitive enough to go any farther," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Rare lapse: Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress had been unscored upon in 15 of his past 16 appearances, and he hadn't given up multiple runs in an outing since July 30. The Pirates ended both of those streaks in the seventh inning, getting three straight one-out hits -- including RBI singles by McCutchen and Kang -- as Pittsburgh rallied for two runs to tie the game. The comeback started with an error at second base by Elian Herrera.

Kang's game-tying single

"It looked like Eli had a hard time seeing it, almost. The way the ball was hit, it was a tough play," Counsell said. "It's two outs, nobody on if he can make that play. But that stuff happens."

Oh, what a relief it is: After one, perhaps inevitable lull -- their 19-decision winning streak ended in Thursday's 13-inning, 6-4 loss to the Brewers -- Pirates relievers were at it again Sunday. Seven of them pooled 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball to set up the team's biggest comeback of the season.

"They've stepped up and continued to feed off one another all year long," Hurdle said of his deep bullpen. "To stop the scoring after the fourth inning and give us a chance to scratch and claw back into it … very impressive."

Bucs roll double play to end threat in 11th

Pirates turn double play

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Pirates are 10-0-1 in series play at home since dropping two of three to the Reds on June 23-25, and they remained undefeated in their past 14 four-game series, reverting to the middle of the 2014 season, going 8-0-6 (with a 37-19 won-lost record).

WHAT'S NEXT
Brewers: After an off-day Monday, the Brewers will face the National League Central-leading Cardinals at 7:10 p.m. CT at Miller Park. Right-hander Ariel Pena will make his second Major league start after allowing two runs on three hits over five innings against the Marlins last Wednesday.

Pirates: Following Monday's off-day -- their final one until Oct. 1 -- the Bucs will get down to business with Tuesday's 1:35 p.m. ET/7:05 p.m. ET split doubleheader against the Cubs. Gerrit Cole is due to work the day game, with J.A. Happ going at night.

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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. Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.