Pirates ride six-run third inning past Brewers

Pirates ride six-run third inning past Brewers

Pirates ride six-run third inning past Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- On the same Friday evening Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history, the Pirates reached the sunny side of the .500 mark with a lopsided win against the Brewers at Miller Park.

With apologies to a storied Mets history that hadn't before included any no-hit stories, beleaguered Pirates fans probably had more fun watching Pittsburgh's 8-2 victory, which was touched off by an unlikely six-run ambush of Milwaukee left-hander Randy Wolf in the third inning.

Cross another item off Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle's to-do list.

Fully conscious of his team's futility in Miller Park -- 4-38 since 2007 entering Friday, including 1-8 in Hurdle's 2011 debut season as the Pirates' skipper -- Hurdle had said that "reversing the trend [here] is one of the items remaining on my to-do list from 2011 stuff."

However, Hurdle did not want to over-analyze the 13-hit attack that improved the Pirates' record when they hit in double figures to 10-0.

"We were due to get some better at-bats in bigger situations. We're finding our way to our comfort zone in the batter's box more often," Hurdle said. "We were due to get some big hits."

And Kevin Correia was definitely due to win a well-pitched game, something he had not done since April 15, in his second start.

Backed by the outburst, Correia stood tall, being hurt only by a pair of solo homers -- by Nyjer Morgan in the first and Corey Hart in the sixth. He allowed only three other hits in his 5 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out two.

The win moved the third-place Bucs (26-25) within a half-game of second-place St. Louis -- Santana's victim at Citi Field.

One had the sense something special was on deck when the third inning opened with back-to-back triples by Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen; not something one sees often.

RBI singles by Neil Walker and Rod Barajas made it a big inning for the conservative Bucs. Then, with the bases loaded, Morgan initially broke in for Jose Tabata's liner to center and lost all hope of making the play on a ball that went for a bases-clearing double to make it a six-run inning, big for anyone.

"It's been a little frustrating the last couple of weeks. I've been hitting the ball very, very good -- into outs," Tabata said. "I'm feeling more comfortable. I want to be consistent.

"I like playing here. I see the ball good. I think everybody likes playing here; you saw how comfortable we were."

The six runs in an inning only tied the Pirates' season high, first reached in Sunday's 10-4 win over the Cubs. But the six hits in the inning were a first this season.

This time, the Bucs didn't add on as much -- Wolf toughened, blanking them for the rest of his six-inning shift -- but McCutchen did come up with a two-out, two-run double off right-hander Tom Dillard in the eighth that served as a nice exclamation mark.

Morgan's home run in a way reinforced some people's surprise that Hurdle chose to not start former Brewers slugger Casey McGehee against Wolf. Players have a way of coming up big against exes.

Take Morgan, the original Pirates outfielder whose home run was anything but routine. It ended his RBI-less season at 138 plate appearances, which broke a 1950 Major League record of 125 set by Herb Adams of the White Sox.

When McGehee did enter the game defensively as part of a seventh-inning double-switch, he was welcomed back by a spirited ovation from the crowd of 33,055.

Pirates reliever Jared Hughes, conversely, was welcomed back to Milwaukee by silence -- just the way he liked it. Last September, the Brewers scored four runs over back-to-back days covering one inning against him. Friday night, when the outcome was still in relative balance, he entered to get the last two outs in the seventh, including a strikeout of Hart.

"You've got to have a short memory," Hughes said. "Going back out there, I had to be aggressive. It's good to beat any team in the Central. That's all we should worry about: Winning today's game."

Even when they make it look easy -- well, easier -- the Pirates know it is anything but.

"Every day is a new day," cautioned Harrison, who was back in right field with rookie Jordy Mercer remaining at short. "We've got it going -- but it's baseball, a humbling sport."

Correia has known that best, taking into play a 1-5 record despite a decent 4.30 ERA.

"We all need some of that," said Hurdle, meaning tangible reward. "It's easy to say the ERA is good, and he's competing and keeping us in games. We all get that. But you compete for a reason, and it's nice to get a mark every now and then.

"It's been a challenging first two months for him. It was good to see him go out there, make pitches and get the game to a point our bullpen could take it home."

It's been a challenging five years for the Pirates here. It was good for them to take one back.

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