Pirates put together relentless offensive attack

Pittsburgh sets season high with 21 hits during win against Braves

Pirates put together relentless offensive attack

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates set a season high with 21 hits Tuesday night. They tied their high mark with 12 runs, putting nine on the board before they made six outs. In the end, they needed just about all of them to escape with a 12-9 win over the Braves at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh's most impressive offensive performance of the season almost went to waste. The Bucs jumped out to a nine-run lead and let the Braves crawl back into the game, eventually calling on closer Mark Melancon in the ninth inning.

But the Pirates' relentless offense didn't stop pushing. They scored seven runs in the first, two in the second, two in the fifth and one more in the seventh -- in all, enough to win their third straight game.

"It's good. It's contagious because you see everybody getting a hit and you're ready to get yours," said outfielder Gregory Polanco, who went 3-for-5 with a trio of doubles. "Keep it up and keep hitting like that."

Polanco was one of four Pirates with three hits, as John Jaso (3-for-3, double), Andrew McCutchen (3-for-5, triple) and Francisco Cervelli (3-for-5, double) also padded their hit total.

Every Pittsburgh starter had at least one hit, and that included pitcher Juan Nicasio, who singled home a run in the first amid the Pirates' 11-batter, seven-run barrage against Braves right-hander Aaron Blair.

Nicasio's RBI single

"It's exciting. It's very fun," Polanco said. "You have to stay ready because you hit in one inning, and the next inning you might hit again. It's very exciting. It's really good to be a part of this lineup. You have to keep fighting like that."

The Pirates rode one of the game's most effective offenses in April. They scored 128 runs, third in the Majors behind (naturally) the division-rival Cubs and Cardinals, and led the league with a .293 average and a .378 on-base percentage.

Pittsburgh's strength is putting pressure on the opposing pitcher, forcing teams to navigate their way through a lineup without an easy out. The plan worked to perfection in the season's first month, only to take a slight step back in early May.

Even as McCutchen's bat comes to life after another slow start, and even as Polanco continues to perform like an All-Star, the Bucs have scored 63 runs in May -- 20th in the Majors -- while collectively batting .262/.330/.407.

But the Bucs returned to form Tuesday night. They had 21 hits but no homers. They drew three walks. They made six Braves pitchers throw a combined 167 pitches.

In the end, they provided enough run support to prop up an uneven start by Nicasio and another shaky bullpen performance.

"A lot of these things can be contagious in our game. I think right now we've got some of that going on," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Everybody's looking to throw up a good at-bat."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.