Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 6/3/12

The Pirates came out on top in a home-run fest at Miller Park this afternoon, giving the Bucs their first series win at Milwaukee since early 2010 and bringing them back above .500 and within 3 games of the Reds.

Just like on Friday, the game started out ominously for the Pirates. Neil Walker doubled over Nyjer Morgan‘s head in center with one out in the first and Andrew McCutchen moved him to third with a soft single. McCutchen was caught stealing, though, and Garrett Jones struck out to end the threat. The Brewers then took advantaged of a Clint Barmes error in the bottom of the inning and scored twice off James McDonald with two sharp base hits.

So, that was unfortunate, but the Bucs dug in and played a solid game the rest of the way. McDonald settled down and posted zeroes for the next four innings, and Barmes got one run back with an RBI bloop single. Just when it seemed like the offense wasn’t going to do much more against rookie Michael Fiers, McCutchen and Jones pounded back-to-back homers to give the Pirates the lead in the fourth. Rod Barajas added a solo shot in the fifth to make the score 4-2, which felt comfortable with J-Mac on the mound.

McDonald was able to shake off the early mess and pitch well – he struck out eight and walked just one for yet another strong outing. Nyjer homered off him in the sixth (Morgan’s second homer and second RBI of the season, the first being on Friday), but that was the only earned run James allowed on the day. The Brewers put two men on base with 1 out after Morgan’s homer, but J-Mac came back with two huge strikeouts to finish his afternoon. He lowered his ERA to 2.14, improving it to the second-best in the major leagues.

The bullpen certainly allowed things to get dicey, but got the job done. Juan Cruz served up a homer to Martin Maldonado (HIS first) in the seventh, and Jason Grilli put two on in the eighth and had to face pinch hitter Ryan Braun in a huge spot. Thankfully, Braun’s liner to right found its way into Jose Tabata‘s mitt for the third out.

Barmes surprised everyone with a solo bomb off John Axford in the top of the ninth, and that turned out to be huge. Joel Hanrahan served up a bomb to Brooks Conrad (HIS second, the first coming yesterday) to bring the Brewers within one. He then walked a man, striking fear into Pirates fans everywhere, but was able to get a game-ending double play ball to earn the save.

Fantastic win, and this team has to be feeling pretty darn good after winning their third series in a row (all in the division, too) and shaking off the Miller Park demons. The Pirates are back above .500 and will head to first-place Cincinnati just three games behind the Reds.

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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