Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Martin's home run powers Pirates past Brewers 4-2

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[September 20, 2014]  PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates couldn't solve Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo Friday night, as he pitched seven shutout innings and struck out a season-high 11 batters.

But once he was removed from the game, Pittsburgh's fortune changed with one swing of the bat.

Left fielder Starling Marte led off the eighth inning with an infield single and second baseman Neil Walker singled to left with one out against Milwaukee right-hander Jonathan Broxton. Broxton blew a save Thursday night in the Brewers' 13-innings loss to St. Louis.

Then, catcher Russell Martin hit a three-run home run, a shot 396 feet to right-center field on a 1-1 fastball served up by Broxton, to help the Pirates overcome Gallardo's strong outing and beat the Brewers 4-2 on Friday night.

"That was the sweetest right there," Martin said. "It doesn't get sweeter than that."

Martin's 11th home run of the year gave the Pirates their first lead of the game at 3-2.

"I was trying to go down and away," Broxton said. "I don't know where it was."

After singles by right fielder Travis Snider and pinch-hitter Andrew Lambo, first baseman Ike Davis rolled a ball up the middle to score pinch-runner Gregory Polanco and add an insurance run to make the lead 4-2.

In the eyes of Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke, the key to the inning was Marte's infield hit in which he beat Broxton to first base as the pitcher tried to cover the bag.

"We didn't make a play again," Roenicke said. "Jam shot, ground ball to first, that should be an out. That changes the whole ballgame if you get the first batter out."

Broxton (4-3) allowed four runs and four hits and recorded just one out in the eighth. Pittsburgh right-hander John Holdzkom (1-0) took the win by working a scoreless half-inning prior to Martin's home run.

Pirates right-hander Mark Melancon worked a scoreless ninth for his 31st save of the year.

The victory gave the Pirates their first five-game win streak of the season as they were 0-7 after winning four straight this season. Pittsburgh (83-70) extended its lead to 3 1/2 games over Milwaukee (79-75) for the National League's second wild-card spot.

Gallardo allowed five hits and one intentional walk and set a season-high with 11 strikeouts, which he attributed to the effectiveness of his curveball. Gallardo now owns a 2.55 ERA in 25 career starts against the Pirates.

"I think I was able to throw the curveball for strikes and bury it when I needed to," Gallardo said. "That seemed to open everything else, I think I had a pretty good slider working as well."

The key to Pittsburgh's comeback was elevating Gallardo's pitch count, which ultimately allowed the Pirates to attack the Milwaukee bullpen.

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"There are some nights anybody is better than the guy that's out there," Hurdle said. "If we don't get (Gallardo's) pitch count up there's no telling how many innings he could have thrown."

Pittsburgh left-hander Jeff Locke gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings. Locke struck out three and walked none.

"His changeup played extremely well tonight," Hurdle said. "He kept us in the game. He was focused, he was ready to go."

Milwaukee right fielder Ryan Braun kick-started the Brewers' offense in the first inning with a double to left field. Braun scored when catcher Jonathan Lucroy followed with an RBI single that gave Milwaukee an early 1-0 lead.

Locke held the Brewers hitless for the next three innings.

Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen tripled with two outs in the home first but Walker grounded out to end the threat.

Walker failed to capitalize with men on base again in the third inning after third baseman Josh Harrison singled and McCutchen reached base on an infield single. Walker struck out to end the inning.

The Pirates had hits in each of their first four turns against Gallardo, but were unable to push a run across. Pittsburgh had men on first and third with two outs in the fourth before Locke struck out swinging.

Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks doubled his team's lead with a solo home run leading off the fifth. His seventh long ball of the season put the Brewers up 2-0 but Locke and the Pirates' bullpen prevented them from adding on.

NOTES: Pittsburgh announced RHP Vance Worley will start Sunday. ... Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton will miss his scheduled start Sunday after experiencing "increased discomfort" in his hip after starting Tuesday and throwing bullpens yesterday and Wednesday. ... Milwaukee LHP Zach Duke was unavailable after pitching out of the bullpen in each of the Brewers' last three games.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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