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Marte caps Pirates comback vs. Brewers

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- Starling Marte's back got better at just the perfect time for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pittsburgh outfielder, out the past two games with tightness in his back, entered Wednesday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning and struck out, but stayed in the game and came through big in the ninth, hitting a two-run double off right-hander Francisco Rodriguez as the Pirates rallied late for a 4-1 victory at Miller Park.

"He's a big-leaguer," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was a pitch up in the zone -- it might not have been executed as well as Rodriguez wanted it to be -- but he put a good swing on it. If the two guys ahead of him don't get on, nobody drives in anybody so it was a big inning for us to string together four straight hits."

Rodriguez had only given up one run all season when he came into the game in the ninth with the game tied at 1. He quickly retired outfielder Jose Tabata -- who moved to right when Marte entered the game -- on a fly ball to right but put the go-ahead run on when first baseman Ike Davis singled to right on a 2-0 change-up.

Clint Barmes came on to run for Davis and scored with ease when catcher Chris Stewart singled to center, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

"I saw quite a few pitches from him last night so that helped going into the at-bat tonight," Stewart said.

That put runners at second and third for Marte, who fell behind 1-2 on three straight fastballs. But Rodriguez's fourth offering was hanging a curveball that Marte ripped to the wall in center, breaking the game open.

"When you miss your location, that's what's going to happen," Rodriguez said. "In that situation, you have to find a way to keep the score where it is and give your offense an opportunity.

"Unfortunately, it wasn't my day. I didn't perform at the level I was expecting or everyone else was expecting. You just have to turn the page quick and be ready for the next day."

Right-hander Mark Melancon earned his fifth save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning, giving the Pirates just their second victory in nine tries this season against Milwaukee.

"They are very good here," Hurdle said. "They're very good offensively and they've pitched well. They're still missing some guys ... but we've had games like this and we're more than capable of taking care of offenses like theirs."

Left-hander Francisco Liriano did his part, putting forth his best effort since throwing six shutout innings on Opening Day.

"I just had better location and executed pitched when I got men on base," Liriano said.

Liriano held Milwaukee to a run on four hits and a walk over his six innings of work, striking out six but was denied a chance at his first victory of the season because his counterpart, Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta, was just as tough on the Pittsburgh offense.

Peralta went seven innings and allowed five hits and a walk while striking out four.

The Pirates' only run against Peralta came in the fourth, when center fielder Andrew McCutchen scored on a fielder's choice by Tabata, giving Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.

Milwaukee tied the game in the fifth when left fielder Khris Davis scored on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Jeff Bianchi, but the Brewers stranded eight runners on the day, went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and hit into a pair of double plays.

"We didn't have great scoring opportunities today," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "(Pirates starter Francisco) Liriano was pretty good. The double plays, again, killed us. But we didn't swing the bats that well."

The Brewers went into the game without center fielder Carlos Gomez.

After coming out of the game in the sixth inning Tuesday, Gomez was originally out of the lineup due to tightness in his back. But just before the game, the Brewers announced that Gomez would drop his appeal begin serving a three-game suspension for his role in a bench-clearing brawl last month at Pittsburgh.

NOTES: Since the start of the 2007 season, the Pirates are 38-83 against Milwaukee and 13-52 at Miller Park. ... Brewers LHP Tom Gorzelanny began a rehab assignment Wednesday with Class A Brevard County. Gorzelanny has not pitched this season while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
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