Russell Martin’s pinch-hit single in the bottom of the 14th-inning on Sunday afternoon resulted in a 2-1 win for the Pittsburgh Pirates, a sweep of their three-game home stand with the Milwaukee Brewers, and a 51-30 record with a two-game lead in their division at the midpoint of their 162-game schedule.
The Pirates have won nine games in a row for the first time since this same point of the 2004 season, and won Sunday’s game just one day after they could boast for the first time since their 1960 World Series championship year that they were the first Major League team to 50 victories.
In a game that contained a two hour and 20-minute rain delay, Pirates pitchers worked fourteen innings without allowing a walk for the first time since 1976. Starter Charlie Morton did not return to the mound after the second-inning stoppage of play. The Pittsburgh bullpen responded with twelve innings of scoreless, two-hit baseball. Vin Mazzaro pitched five perfect innings, while Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon provided one inning each of shutout work. Tony Watson (2-1; 3.57 ERA) threw no-hit ball over the final three innings, striking out four batters to earn the win.
Andrew McCutchen drove home Starling Marte with an RBI single in the eighth inning for the game-tying hit. Marte finished with two of the Bucs’ eight hits. Milwaukee (32-48) scored an unearned run before the rain delay with a Pittsburgh error, a single and a Logan Schafer sacrifice fly in the top of the second inning.
In Saturday’s 2-1 win by Pittsburgh, Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones both belted solo home runs, The Brewers scored on a single by Yuniesky Betancourt. Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano (7-3; 2.23 ERA) earned the win with one run and seven hits allowed over six innings. Liriano struck out six batters and walked only one. Grilli earned his 27th save. Milwaukee’s Donovan Hand (0-1; 2.62 ERA), normally a relief pitcher, took the loss in his second start of the season.
Pittsburgh’s starter in the Friday night opener, rookie Gerrit Cole, surrendered three runs in the top of the first inning, but the Pirates rebounded for an impressive 10-3 win. Marte and McCutchen provided three hits apiece, with McCutchen hitting the game’s only homer and driving in three runs. Marte and Neil Walker both recorded two RBIs. Cole (4-0; 3.70 ERA) settled down to earn the win, allowing three runs and eight hits over six innings with three strikeouts and three walks. Ryan Reid worked the final three innings for his first Major League save.
Making his Major League debut, Brewers starter Johnny Hellweg lasted only one-and-two-thirds innings, and gave up seven second-inning runs. Aramis Ramirez, Jonathan Lucroy and Juan Francisco tallied the Milwaukee RBIs.
After a day off on Monday, the Pirates will begin a three-game home series against the Philadelphia Phillies (39-44) on Tuesday night.