There’s a different vibe at PNC Park right now. Tens of thousands of fans packed the North Shore venue this afternoon on a blistering hot and humid day inPittsburgh, to see the Pirates and the Astros on Independence Day? That’s right…we all know how dedicated of a sports town the Steel City can be…especially for a winning team.
The Pirates beat the Astros for the third time in as many days, this time by a 6-4 score, and now, they sit alone atop the N.L. Central division.
Sure, it’s the Astros…a team that has all but mailed in this season as nothing more than a transition from the National League to the American League next year. And their lone remaining established threat, Carlos Lee, was shipped toMiamitoday. But the Bucs have been winning games…a lot of games…in fact, the most games of any team in the National League since mid-May. This is all due in large part to the sudden unstoppable offensive attack the Bucs are getting from everyone up and down their lineup.
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Pedro Alvarez and Michael McKenry had two RBI’s each this afternoon to lead the Pirates who, as a team, tallied double-digit hits again. McKenry’s run-scoring double in the fourth inning gave the Bucs a 4-2 lead, and, after Houston cut the lead back to 4-3, Alvarez’s two-run single in the seventh gave them some much-needed breathing room for the final two innings.
Andrew McCutchen went 1-2 with a single, a walk, and a run scored. His .360 average keeps him atop the National League. Garrett Jones added two more hits today as well. His average currently sits at an impressive .275 for the year. Clint Barmes also added an RBI single forPittsburgh.
Kevin Correia earned his fifth victory of the season after giving up three runs on six hits through six innings of work. After falling behind early in the first inning, he battled back, getting himself out of jams and making the Astros’ hitters work for everything. He handed the ball over to Brad Lincoln and Jason Grilli, who effectively worked the seventh and eighth innings. After giving up a solo homerun to begin the ninth frame, Joel Hanrahan shut the Astros down in order to secure his 21st save of the season.
The Pirates are now 45-36, nine games over .500 for the first time since 1992. What else happened that year? They made the playoffs. Following the Cincinnati Reds’ loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers today,Pittsburghis in first place in the N.L. Central all alone, with one game remaining against the lowly Astros. Having already secured the series victory with their win today, the Pirates have a huge opportunity to beat Houston once more tomorrow and complete a four-game series sweep. Jeff Karstens takes the mound tomorrow against the Astros’ Bud Norris for the 7:05pm first pitch.
Record vs. Astros: 5-1
Record vs. N.L. Central: 19-11
Record at Home: 26-13
Overall Record: 45-36
Let’s Go Bucs!
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