Originally posted on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 6/29/13
Pedro Alvarez launched his 10th June home run, most in a month for his career. (Photo Credit: David Hague) From Pedro Alvarez homering into the Allegheny River to Garrett Jones homering into the center field bushes, the Pirates got the natural environment involved in their eighth-straight win Saturday night. It contrasted with the supernatural – the Bucs reaching 50 wins in June for the first time in franchise history and maintaining baseball’s best record. A 2-1 victory in front of a record fifth-straight PNC Park sellout showed an unnatural baseball fever developing in front of the Pittsburgh skyline. And the players feel it. “We’re playing for ourselves, but there’s about 40,000 people tonight,” closer Jason Grilli said. “It’s just awesome to see everybody dusting off their Pirates shirts and coming out in droves to finally get what they’ve been wanting for so long.” Starter Francisco Liriano’s offspeed stuff was a force of nature itself, generating 9 Brewers swings-and-misses and helping the Pittsburgh lefty to six strikeouts and his 5th quality start in June. Pitching strong middle innings almost allowed Liriano to go for a season-long start, but he allowed three hits and his only run in his 6th and final inning. “It means a lot to me,” Liriano said. “Every five days, just trying to give it everything I have.” Offense was hard for the Pirates to – ahem – run into aside from the left-handed home runs. Rookie Donovan Hand looked like a natural as he kept the Pirates at bay over his five innings, though he did get his first MLB loss in the start. Only three Pittsburgh baserunners got into scoring position on Hand and no inning saw more than one hit. But Alvarez and Jones showed the power that has become second nature for them. Alvarez crushed a 1-2 curveball over the stands, through a tree and into the Allegheny to open the scoring and notch his 20th home run, only one behind NL leaders Carlos Gonzalez and Domonic Brown. Jones’ homer to lead off the 4th simply kept traveling and traveling until it found leaves. Starling Marte’s 3rd-inning double (which could have been a triple if Marte were not about to lap Liriano on the bases) was the Pirates’ only other extra-base hit. Francisco Liriano goes to 7-3 this year, tying him for the team-high in wins. (Photo Credit: David Hague) Naturally, it wasn’t easy for Liriano with a small lead. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Liriano was “challenged” by the Brewers’ righty-heavy lineup, especially Carlos Gomez grabbing a triple to the Notch and infield single, but the starter got strikeouts and scoreless frames in each of his first five innings. His outing kept the Pirates’ team ERA at an MLB-best 3.15 this season. “It’s all about location when I’m pitching here,” Liriano said, as he allowed no walks after his first batter. ”Every time I pitch against the Brewers, it’s a battle for me.” Liriano said he could have gone another inning, but it’s in Hurdle’s nature to go to his stellar bullpen. Tony Watson went 1-2-3 in the 7th. Mark Melancon collected two strikeouts and a scoreless 8th. Then Jason Grilli needed only six pitches to rebound from a three-runs-allowed struggle Sunday, get his league-leading 27th save and wrap up the half-century wins mark in front of 38,438 cheering fireworks-turned-baseball fans. “Sellout crowds, we’ve been waiting for that,” Grilli said. “I’m excited and elated to be in the situation where that energy, just soaking it. It’s going in to me.” And it’s going into the Pirates’ success. The Bucs are now 20 games above .500, have won 10 of their last 12 games and clinched a third-straight series victory against a Brewers team that had gone 69-24 against them over the previous six seasons. Pittsburgh has built a 10-game cushion for a playoff spot as it enters the season’s halfway point following Sunday’s game. Seems like something out of The Natural, eh?
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Stephen Curry dribbles through entire Thunder defense, scores

Bryan Rust's two goals send Penguins to Stanley Cup Final

Wade Boggs honored to have jersey retired by Red Sox

Agent strongly denies report that Chris Berman is retiring

Bryce Harper cuts batting gloves after homering without them

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jason Garrett on Randy Gregory: ‘He has a long way to go’

Mike Moustakas done for the year with torn right ACL

Did this 50-loss team give others a blueprint to beat the Warriors?

Magic expect to be active players in free agency, could target Al Horford

Report: Rockets to hire Mike D’Antoni as head coach

The Warriors need emotional and tactical solutions

WATCH: Steve Kerr loses control of his mouth at end of Game 5

Why fans shouldn't flip over Sidney Crosby touching the trophy

Dwyane Wade: ‘I don’t want to be on the market at all’

Warren Sapp does not like Timmy Jernigan’s tribute idea

Mark Cuban ‘all for legalized gambling’ in the U.S.

Over 100,000 register for tickets to Texans-Raiders Mexico City game

Markieff Morris detained at airport on suspicion of marijuana possession

Ray Rice speaks to Baltimore Ravens rookies

Report: Mike Holmgren turned down chance to coach the Jets

Lil Wayne & Birdman bet thousands on Madden, then let computer decide who wins

Best regular-season NBA teams not to win a championship

Ezekiel Elliott will have to ‘earn’ Cowboys starting RB job

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best regular-season NBA teams not to win a championship

Every time an NBA team came back from a 3-1 deficit (and what it means for the Warriors)

How disallowed goals can change the course of NHL games

The five most disappointing MLB teams this season

QUIZ: Identify these NHL Hall of Famers by their nicknames

QUIZ: Name every winner of the Belmont Stakes since 1867

Sniping quotes highlight NHL conference finals animosity

QUIZ: Name every NBA franchise's original incarnation

The 15 biggest playoff upsets in NBA history

Cy Young Award contenders at the quarter mark of the season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker