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Pirates pick up rare win in Milwaukee

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- At least for one day, the hex is off the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park.

Sterling Marte's game-tying home run highlighted a four-run eighth inning that pushed Pittsburgh to a 6-4 victory over the Brewers, who had won 46 of the past 53 games against the Pirates at Miller Park.

"It's a start," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, whose team avoided a sweep and snapped a nine-game losing streak to Milwaukee. "We thought we were going to do it last night and we didn't. Our objective was to do it today. We don't make it as big as everybody else does because a lot of these guys weren't here. They don't feel the baggage."

Marte's home run was his third of the season and continued a hot stretch for the second-year left fielder. He has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games and reached safely in 12 straight, batting .319 during that stretch, with 15 hits and four walks and has been hit by a pitch four times.

In three games against Milwaukee, Marte went 4 for 13 with two homers and five RBI.

"He's growing up a little bit," Hurdle said. "He's probably done it in the minor leagues, but when you hit game-changing home runs and do things like that at this level, you start to get a lot of confidence."

The comeback inning let Hurdle turn the game over to the back end of his bullpen for the first time all series. Mark Melancon worked around a Carlos Gomez base hit in the eighth and Jason Grilli threw a scoreless ninth for his 11th save of the season.

Bryan Morris (1-1), who took the loss Tuesday when Milwaukee rallied late for a 12-8 victory, picked up the victory on Wednesday.

"Last night, I walked away from the game with my first major-league loss," Grilli said. "Today, I throw two pitches and get the win. It is a good feeling and hopefully there is more to come."

Milwaukee saw one of its best starting pitching performances of the season spoiled. Rookie right-hander Hiram Burgos scattered four hits in seven innings while striking out six in his third career start. His only blemishes came from solo home runs by Pedro Alvarez and Michael McKerny.

In the eighth, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke turned the ball over to right-hander John Axford, who had shown a return to his 2011 form after being tagged for nine runs in his first four outings this season, costing him his closer' role.

Axford got into trouble quickly, allowing a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Travis Snider. After going 1-1 to Marte, Axford threw a 95 mph fastball that Marte bashed 416 feet to center.

"It was low and in," said Axford (0-3), who had allowed just one run in his last eight appearances and held opponents to a .192 average. "It was below the zone. I went back and looked at the tape. It's kind of frustrating, once he hit it, I looked at (catcher Jonathan Lucroy) right away. He just did a good job."

Jose Tabata followed with a single up the middle, and after retiring Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones, Brandon Inge put Pittsburgh ahead 5-4 on a single to short right.

Roenicke turned to left-hander Michael Gonzalez, who allowed a base hit by Alvarez that scored Inge to give Pittsburgh a two-run cushion before retiring McKenry to end the inning.

"(Axford's) been pitching well," Roenicke said. "It was one of those games. ... This guy's been pitching really well for us. ... I still obviously like him a lot. I think every time I put him out there, I think he's going to do a good job."

After taking a 1-0 lead in the first, Milwaukee chased Pittsburgh starter Jeanmar Gomez with back-to-back homers by Carlos Gomez and Yuniesky Betancourt in the fourth. The Brewers added an insurance run in the sixth on a RBI single by Jean Segura.

NOTES: After the game, Milwaukee optioned outfielder Khris Davis to Triple-A Nashville. ... Russell Martin has homered in four of his last five games and has six in his last 13. His next will be the 100th of his career. ... Milwaukee has the best home record in baseball since 2011 (115-61) and had won eight in a row at Miller Park. ... Inge singled in the fourth inning, extending his hitting streak to eight games. Inge has hit safely in 27 of his last 29 games, dating to last season. ... Segura had an RBI single in the seventh, and after going 1 for 3 and reaching on an error, his .362 average remained second best in the National League. ... The Pirates started the season without a home run through their first five games but have hit 28 in their last 23.
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