Nova struggles as Bucs drop finale to Rockies

Nova struggles as Bucs drop finale to Rockies

DENVER -- Riding another strong performance from rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland, and supplemented with an offensive outburst, the Rockies powered to a 13-3 victory on Sunday at Coors Field to clinch their first home series win over the Pirates since July 2014.

The Rockies batted through the order twice on Sunday, in the third and sixth innings, scattering homers from Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, pinch-hitting Pat Valaika and two from Mark Reynolds, while Nolan Arenado had three RBIs to pad his MLB lead to 86.

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Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Rockies on Sunday. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Pirates on Sunday.

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

Pirates shuffling OF spots with Polanco out

Pirates shuffling OF spots with Polanco out

DENVER -- Gregory Polanco's hamstring injury is giving a few Pirates the opportunity for more consistent playing time in the outfield.

Polanco strained his left hamstring in Friday's opening game against the Rockies and was replaced by John Jaso. On Saturday, the left-handed hitting Jaso was again in the starting lineup vs. righty pitcher German Marquez, but righty Jose Osuna started Sunday against Rockies' left-hander Kyle Freeland.

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Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bell homers, but Bucs' win streak comes to end

Bell homers, but Bucs' win streak comes to end

DENVER -- Rookie right-hander German Marquez tied a career high with nine strikeouts -- and was hot under the collar, when necessary -- as the Rockies ended the Pirates' win streak at six games with a 7-3 victory Saturday night at Coors Field.

Marquez (8-4) used a curveball, slider and changeup that were sharp from the outset -- and his fastball topped out at 98.6 mph -- as he held the Pirates to three hits and two runs in seven innings. After two walks and a run in the first, he issued no more walks, and his only additional run was a solo homer by Josh Bell.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Pirates on Saturday.

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

Just days after return, Marte in midseason form

Just days after return, Marte in midseason form

DENVER -- Starling Marte dribbled a ninth-inning fastball from Greg Holland just past the pitcher's mound. Using his signature speed, he sprinted down the line, earning the infield hit without a throw.

With the bases loaded, Marte had his third hit of the night, driving in the Pirates' final run in a 7-3 loss to the Rockies. Marte has played only five games since being reinstated from an 80-game PED suspension, but he has seemed to find a rhythm already, hitting .292 with three stolen bases and six runs.

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Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Pirates on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Benches clear at Coors Field after close pitch

Benches clear at Coors Field after close pitch

DENVER -- Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl apparently made his point Saturday night. And so did Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez.

And the incident -- which, like most baseball confrontations, included plenty of posturing and no punching -- was grounded in history, with reasons to beef from both starting pitchers and both teams. So even after the 7-3 Rockies victory at Coors Field on Saturday night, there is a degree of bad blood between the teams as they prepare to finish the three-game series Sunday afternoon.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hamstring forces Polanco to DL; Brault recalled

Hamstring forces Polanco to DL; Brault recalled

DENVER -- Less than a week after the Pirates' starting outfield trio was back together following Starling Marte's reinstatement, Gregory Polanco has landed on the 10-day disabled list due to a left hamstring strain.

 

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Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Pirates on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs go over .500, beat Rox for 6th straight W

Bucs go over .500, beat Rox for 6th straight W

DENVER -- Pirates first baseman Josh Bell didn't waste time. His first two swings Friday night produced four runs. Otherwise, Bucs hitters forced Rockies rookie Jeff Hoffman into 82 excruciating pitches over three-plus innings, scoring seven runs in a 13-5 victory at Coors Field.

With their six-game winning streak, the Pirates are two games behind the National League Central-leading Brewers and are over .500 for the first time since April 10.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Pirates on Friday.

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

Top of Bucs' lineup thrives in altitude at Coors

Pirates' Nos. 1-4 hitters combine for 10 hits, seven RBIs vs. Rockies

Top of Bucs' lineup thrives in altitude at Coors

DENVER -- The Pirates have found copious offensive success at Coors Field recently, and that trend continued in Friday's 13-5 win over the Rockies, largely thanks to the top of the Bucs' lineup.

Starling Marte, Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen entered the series opener with already-cartoonish stats in Colorado. But they boosted their numbers on Friday by combining to go 6-for-14 with nine runs scored and three RBIs. Throw in cleanup hitter Josh Bell's career high four hits and four RBIs and that goes up to 10-for-20 with 10 runs and seven RBIs.

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Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Pirates on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole brought Cervelli oxygen after his triple

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Cole brought Cervelli oxygen after his triple

Catchers are sturdy creatures. They are good at squatting for long periods, while covered in heavy gear. They accept foul balls that bounce off any part of their body and shrug them off as if they were flies hitting the windshield. 

What they are not great at is legging out triples. Except, every now and then, it happens.

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Hudson, Watson settle into middle-relief roles

Hudson, Watson settle into middle-relief roles

DENVER -- When Felipe Rivero stepped into the closer's role, he didn't just solidify the back end of the Pirates' bullpen, but the front end, as well.

Tony Watson and Daniel Hudson -- the two veterans originally slated for the late innings -- have rebounded to their old selves since Rivero began dominating the ninth. Entering Friday, Watson owns a 2.08 ERA since the June 9 switch and Hudson has a 1.93 ERA, and they've both lowered their season-long marks nearly a full run.

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Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Pirates on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs sweep: Crew's Pitt stop shakes up race

Pirates 3 games behind 1st-place Brewers; Cubs in 2nd, 1 game back

Bucs sweep: Crew's Pitt stop shakes up race

PITTSBURGH -- While the Brewers came out of the All-Star break holding a solid lead in the National League Central, the Pirates faced a steep uphill climb. Less than a week later, the division's balance of power has shifted. Pittsburgh finished off a four-game sweep of Milwaukee on Thursday afternoon, crawling back to .500 with a 4-2 win at PNC Park.

The Brewers' 5 1/2-game lead in the NL Central standings has evaporated to just one game over the Cubs, who reeled off six straight wins to begin the second half. Trailing by seven games at the break, the Bucs have won a season-high five straight games -- and 11 of their last 13 -- to pull within three games of the Crew. For the first time since April 16, Pittsburgh does not have a losing record.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Jonathan Toye is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Brewers on Thursday.

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

Central, hark! Here come red-hot Pirates

Bucs sweep 4-game set from Crew to improve to division-best 36-24 since May 13

Central, hark! Here come red-hot Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Buyer? Seller? How about contender?

The Pirates woke up on July 4 nine games under .500, seven games out of first place in the National League Central. Since then, they've won 11 of 13 games, including Thursday's 4-2 victory over the Brewers at PNC Park, vaulting back to the break-even point and into a wide-open NL Central race.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Freese honing swing, but eye hasn't faltered

Hurdle on third baseman's career-high OBP: 'I think it's a sign of maturity in a hitter'

Freese honing swing, but eye hasn't faltered

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' game-tying rally Wednesday night started innocently but impressively.

Facing All-Star closer Corey Knebel with one out in the ninth, David Freese fell behind in the count, one ball and two strikes. Knebel challenged Freese with a 98.9-mph fastball, which Freese took low for a ball. Then came two sharp curveballs. Freese followed the first one as it sailed away and outside the zone then took the full-count pitch, which dived under the zone for ball four.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bradenton's Keller forced out after six strong

Bradenton's Keller forced out after six strong

No organization currently features more high-end talent in its farm system than the White Sox. That was evident on Thursday, as a host of the South Siders' top prospects turned in big performances across three different levels.

Most notably, No. 8 overall prospect Eloy Jimenez (White Sox No. 2) went 3-for-5 with a solo home run and a pair of doubles for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. It was the 20-year-old outfielder's ninth home run this season and his first as a member of the White Sox after he was acquired from the Cubs last week in the Jose Quintana trade. No. 68 overall prospect Zack Collins (White Sox No. 7) also went deep for Winston-Salem, giving him 13 homers through 82 games in his first full season.

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

Bucs stay hot: Moroff's walk-off beats Brewers

Bucs stay hot: Moroff's walk-off beats Brewers

PITTSBURGH -- Throughout this turbulent season and this critical homestand, the Pirates have proven they can't be counted out. Down by a run after eight innings, the Bucs tied it in the ninth and rallied again in the 10th for their third walk-off win since the All-Star break and their 10th win in their last 12 games, a 3-2 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday at PNC Park.

After a pair of walk-offs last weekend against the Cardinals from Josh Bell and Adam Frazier, rookie infielder Max Moroff, who entered the game as a pinch-runner during the game-tying rally in the ninth, played the role of unlikely hero Wednesday night. Moroff's first career walk-off hit sealed a series win against the division-leading Brewers. The Bucs are one game under .500 for the first time since April 29 and within four games of Milwaukee in the wide-open division race.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Jonathan Toye is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Brewers on Wednesday.

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

Cole looks like Bucs' ace with 10 K's vs. Crew

Right-hander allows one run over seven strong against NL Central leaders

Cole looks like Bucs' ace with 10 K's vs. Crew

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates are playing their best baseball of the season, winning 10 of their last 12 games and bouncing back into the National League Central race. Their ace may be rounding back into form, too.

Before the Pirates' late-inning heroics stole the show in a 3-2 win over the Brewers on Wednesday night at PNC Park, right-hander Gerrit Cole put together one of his best starts of the season. He struck out a season-high 10 batters without a walk, holding Milwaukee to one run on six hits over seven innings.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs' 'pen thriving with MLB's lowest July ERA

Bucs' 'pen thriving with MLB's lowest July ERA

PITTSBURGH -- After an inconsistent first half, the Pirates' bullpen has settled into place.

After a 3-2 walk-off win in extra innings over the Brewers, the Pirates own the Majors' second-best staff ERA in July, with their 2.71 mark trailing only the Dodgers' 2.17 ERA. Much of Pittsburgh's success on the mound is due to the bullpen, which leads all of baseball with a 1.75 ERA this month.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

HRs spark 4-run 6th as Bucs beat Brewers

HRs spark 4-run 6th as Bucs beat Brewers

PITTSBURGH -- Unable to mount any sort of offensive attack against Brewers starter Junior Guerra for five innings, the Pirates broke out in the sixth Tuesday night at PNC Park. Francisco Cervelli and Josh Harrison homered, leading the surging Bucs to a 4-3 win over the Brewers.

Pittsburgh has won nine of its last 11 games, pulling within five games of Milwaukee in the wide-open National League Central race. This was cast as a critical stretch for the Bucs, who may have to declare themselves as contenders before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Pirates got outfielder Starling Marte back on Tuesday night from suspension, and he went 1-for-3 with a single and walk.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Jonathan Toye is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Brewers on Tuesday.

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

Marte appreciates fans' response in return

Pirates outfielder hit leadoff and went 1-for-3 against Brewers

Marte appreciates fans' response in return

PITTSBURGH -- It's a short run from the Pirates' dugout to left field at PNC Park. Starling Marte's first few steps Tuesday night were uncertain. Back from an 80-game suspension for using a banned performance-enhancing substance, Marte did not know how he would be received by the fans who once cheered for him unreservedly.

So when he approached his spot in left field, settling in for his first Major League game in more than three months, Marte was relieved to hear more cheers than jeers. Pleasant applause drowned out a handful of audible boos, but the welcome was particularly warm in his corner of the outfield.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen's baby boy is due in December

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McCutchen's baby boy is due in December

Andrew McCutchen lives a good life. The five-time All-Star and former National League MVP married his wife Maria in November 2014 after a romantic proposal on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show." The couple also recently announced they would be expecting a new addition to their family in December. 

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Kuhl, ever so cool, snags foul line drive

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Kuhl, ever so cool, snags foul line drive

Chad Kuhl is cool. First off, it's his last name. Secondly, he's a pitcher in Major League Baseball. Third, look at this picture. Look how cool he looks.

And during Tuesday's Brewers-Pirates game, Kuhl lived up to his name once again. Keon Broxton smacked a ground ball toward the Pittsburgh dugout -- headed straight for team trainer Todd Tomczyk. Luckily for Tom, Chad Kuhl was there ... ever so cool.

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Frazier Bucs' Heart and Hustle Award winner

Frazier Bucs' Heart and Hustle Award winner

The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association revealed the 30 preliminary winners of the 2017 Heart and Hustle Award on Tuesday. The honor is the only one voted on by former players, and is bestowed each year upon the active player who most represents a passion for the game of baseball, and best embodies the values, spirit and tradition of the game.

Past winners of the Heart and Hustle Award include David Eckstein (2005), Hall of Famer Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Dustin Pedroia (2013), Josh Harrison (2014), Anthony Rizzo (2015) and Todd Frazier (2016).

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Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Watson, Bucs promote inclusion at PLAY event

Watson, Bucs promote inclusion at PLAY event

Tony Watson won't forget what he did Tuesday morning at PNC Park any time soon.

The Pirates left-hander had just finished speaking to a group of kids when a young girl with Down syndrome approached him. First, she gave him a high five. Then she followed that with a hug. The moment struck a chord with Watson.

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Jonathan Toye is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs take opener from Crew behind Polanco

Bucs take opener from Crew behind Polanco

PITTSBURGH -- This week is full of opportunity for the Pirates, who are scratching and clawing their way into contention in the National League Central race. They took another step in the right direction Monday night at PNC Park, when right fielder Gregory Polanco went 4-for-4 with two RBIs to spark the lineup in a 4-2 win over the division-leading Brewers.

The Bucs are still three games under .500 and six behind the Brewers, who have only lost four times in their last 15 outings, including their last two games. But the Pirates have won eight of their last 10 games, they have Starling Marte returning from his suspension on Tuesday, and they have three more with the Brewers in this series.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Jonathan Toye is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Brewers on Monday.

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

Polanco hitting stride all over diamond in July

Pirates right fielder is batting .438 this month after 4-for-4 game vs. Brewers

Polanco hitting stride all over diamond in July

PITTSBURGH -- Three days ago, Gregory Polanco was booed at PNC Park for a lack of hustle. But there he was Monday night, taking an extra base in the fifth inning, legging out a double, cutting down a run at the plate with a max-effort throw home.

Polanco was in the middle of everything in the Pirates' 4-2 win over the Brewers, and he may be hitting his stride just as the Bucs hit theirs. Polanco went 4-for-4 with a pair of RBI doubles and a run-saving outfield assist as Pittsburgh won for the eighth time in 10 games, creeping closer toward .500 and division-leading Milwaukee.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Frazier delivers as Bucs walk off with series win

Frazier delivers as Bucs walk off with series win

PITTSBURGH -- For the second time in three days, the Pirates staged a dramatic ninth-inning rally to surge past the Cardinals and keep their hopes of contending alive. Josh Bell began the key National League Central series with a walk-off homer Friday night, and Adam Frazier ended it Sunday afternoon by slapping a walk-off single to cap another comeback and lead the Bucs to a 4-3 win and a series victory over the Cards at PNC Park.

"I'm proud of the men. I'm proud of the fight," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Good first series here to start the second half."
 

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Jonathan Toye is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh who covered the Cardinals on Sunday.

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

1st things 1st: Milestones highlight win

Moroff, Williams, Frazier check off accomplishments in Pirates' walk-off victory

1st things 1st: Milestones highlight win

PITTSBURGH -- Max Moroff hit the ball hard to right field -- the first time he'd made contact like that in a while, he thought -- and he looked up to see it bounce off the foul pole. His right foot tapped first base, and that's the last thing he remembers about his first Major League home run.

As Moroff put it later: "I don't remember too much, but it's something I'll always remember."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Week ahead may impact Deadline strategy

Pirates facing division-rival Brewers in four-game set before heading west to take on Rockies

Week ahead may impact Deadline strategy

PITTSBURGH -- The July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is two weeks from Monday, and the Pirates are on the outside looking in. After Sunday's 4-3 walk-off win over the Cardinals, the Pirates sit seven games behind the National League Central-leading Brewers and eight games out of the second NL Wild Card spot.

Pittsburgh has a chance to surge back into the standings over the next week. On Monday, the Bucs begin a four-game series against the Brewers at PNC Park. Next weekend, they'll head west to face the Rockies at Coors Field. By the time that series is over, the Deadline will be a week away.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Slumping J-Hay sees end of 'storm' nearing

2nd baseman in first skid of season, but he feels he's not far off

Slumping J-Hay sees end of 'storm' nearing

PITTSBURGH -- Josh Harrison anchored the Pirates' lineup for the better part of three months, a consistently strong presence in a group plagued by injuries, absences and slumps. Combined with his defensive versatility, Harrison's reliable bat was enough to make him Pittsburgh's lone All-Star.

But Harrison has hit his first skid of the season, he acknowledged after going 0-for-4 and stranding the bases loaded in the seventh inning of the Pirates' 4-0 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday night at PNC Park.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.