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The Pittsburgh Pirates are having so much fun on the west coast, they may not want to come home to PNC Park. Then again, they also hold the league's second best home mark at 25-13, so maybe it's time to accept the possibility that they aren't going away this season. On Wednesday, Clint Hurdle's squad extended their winning streak to a season-high six games thanks to a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners. They also reached 18 games over .500 for the first time since their last winning season in 1992.
Part of the reason for that overwhelming success is the contributions they're receiving from unlikely sources. That would include 26-year-old shortstop Jordy Mercer, who came through with the winning RBI single in the ninth inning. Mercer has actually proven to be surprisingly valuable in those situations all season, hitting .391 with runners in scoring position.
''I guess I have a knack for coming up with big hits in big spots,'' Mercer said.
Neil Walker cracked a two-run homer off Felix Hernandez in the fourth to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead, but their offense did little otherwise against the King. Jeanmar Gomez and three relievers were able to hold Seattle's offense down long enough for Mercer to come through.
R.A. Dickey dominates and Jose Reyes returns for Jays: It hasn’t been smooth sailing for R.A. Dickey coming off his Cy Young season in 2012, but just as the Toronto Blue Jays are hitting their stride, the 38-year-old knuckleballer came through with a gem on Wednesday. In his first complete game since Aug. 9, 2012, Dickey shut out Tampa Bay Rays on only two hits and a very efficient 93 pitchers. He also struck out six and walked one, and afterwards he explained why he thought the game went so well.
''I just concentrate on trying to produce a good knuckleball down in the strike zone for a strike, and today I was able to do that,'' Dickey said. ''Mechanically, I was very repeatable, and you saw the results. They were hitting a lot of ground balls, I had a high strike percentage, so that's what I'm looking for.''
Dickey’s terrific outing was only part of the good news for Toronto. They also got all-star shortstop Jose Reyes back from the severely sprained ankle suffered on April 12. Though he went 0 for 4 in Toronto‘s 3-0 win, his addition at the top of the order makes the American League’s hottest team even more dangerous.
Two-hit Wednesday: Two-hit Tuesday would have had a much better ring to it, but Oakland A’s right-hander A.J. Griffin will take it. Much like R.A. Dickey earlier in the afternoon, Griffin was dominant in shutting out the Cincinnati Reds in his team’s 5-0 victory. In addition to allowing just the two hits, Griffin walked two and struck out seven, needing 108 pitches to finish his job.
Indians blow lead, rally in ninth: Scott Kazmir carried a no-hitter into the seventh and allowed only one hit and one unearned run over seven innings, yet he took a no-decision in the Indians 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. In the eighth, the O's rallied for two against Joe Smith to grab a 3-2 lead. However, closer Jim Johnson gave both runs right back in the ninth after Jason Giambi's 400th career double, a pair of walks, and consecutive RBI groundouts. That's Johnson's fifth blown save and sixth loss.
Marlins 5, Twins 3: The Marlins are guaranteed a winning month of June. They sit at 13-9 with three games to go.
Red Sox 5, Rockies 3: John Lackey struck out 12, his highest total since Oct. 3, 2010 against the Yankees. He's also the first Red Sox pitcher with 12 or more strikeouts and zero walks in a game since Pedro Martinez on May 3, 2003.
Nationals 3, Diamondbacks 2: Jordan Zimmermann allowed two runs in the first inning but followed with six scoreless to become the first 11-game winner in the National League. Rookie Anthony Rendon chipped in offensively with his third three-hit game of the season.
Rangers 8, Yankees 5: Every time the Yankees moved to within a run, the Rangers had an answer. Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer off Joba Chamberlain in the seventh. Lance Berkman and Mitch Moreland put on the finishing touches with RBI hits in the ninth.
Angels 7, Tigers 4: Mike Trout homered and drove in three as the Angels extended their winning streak over Detroit to eight games.
Mets 3, White Sox 0: A matchup with the White Sox was all Shaun Marcum needed to get off the schneid. The 32-year-old right-hander avoided what would have been an embarrassing 0-10 start with eight shutout innings on Wednesday, and also improved to 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA lifetime against Chicago.
Cubs 5, Brewers 4: The Cubs snapped a nine-game losing streak at Miller Park.
Astros 4, Cardinals 3: Houston struck for four off Lance Lynn in the fourth and held on for the series split.
Dodgers 4, Giants 2: The Dodgers sweep the quick two-game series and win their fifth in a row behind Clayton Kershaw. Yasiel Puig added three more hits to raise his average to .435.
Phillies 7, Padres 5 (13 inn.): Padres second baseman Logan Forsythe committed two errors on the game-deciding play in the 13th inning.
''I wouldn't call it breaking the ice, I'd call it contributing, finally,''
— Shaun Marcum on earning that elusive first victory.
• According to Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk, Raul Ibanez's 18 home runs put him on pace for the most in a season by a 41-year-old. The great Ted Williams holds the current record with 29 in 1960.
• Jordan Zimmermann has won 13 straight home decisions for Washington, matching the longest streak in franchise history set by Dave Palmer (1979-82).
• The Angels have outscored the Tigers 55-21 during their eight-game win streak against them.
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