Posted July 20, 2012 on AP on Fox
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Pedro Alvarez hit his 20th homer of the season, Andrew McCutchen had two hits to boost his batting average to a major-league best .372 and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Miami Marlins 4-3 on Friday night. Kevin Correia (7-6) overcame a shaky start to win his fifth consecutive decision. Joel Hanrahan worked out of a two-on, one-out jam for 27th save as the Pirates moved to a season-best 12 games over .500 (52-40) and remained a half-game behind Cincinnati for first place in the NL Central. Neil Walker led off the sixth with a homer off Ricky Nolasco (8-8) to help the Pirates rally for their 27th come-from-behind victory, second-most in baseball. Jose Reyes had three hits, including his fifth homer of the season, for the Marlins. John Buck singled and doubled for Miami, which has dropped three straight and seven of 10. Correia came in looking to win his fifth straight for the first time in his career but got off to a bumpy start. Reyes took the second pitch of the game and drilled it over the fence in right-center field for his 17th career homer leading off a game. Emilio Bonifacio followed with a single, promptly stole two bases and scored on a fielders' choice by Carlos Lee to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead. Yet just as he did against Milwaukee last Saturday when he spotted the Brewers an early 2-0 lead, Correia settled down and gave Pittsburgh's red-hot bats a chance to catch up. The Pirates eventually tied it at 3 in the fourth as Alvarez drilled a pitch from Nolasco into the stands in right and Rod Barajas doubled and scored on a single by Clint Barmes. Alvarez now has as many home runs in 83 games this season as he did in the first 164 games of his career combined. Then again, he's just trying to keep pace on an offense that has somehow morphed from the worst in baseball in April and May into the best in the majors since June 1. And it's not just McCutchen doing damage. Walker's been pretty good in his own right. He hit .485 during a 17-game hitting streak that ended Wednesday, but he bounced back with two hits Friday, including a homer to right leading off the fifth that put Pittsburgh in front. The Pirates, who hit 107 homers last year, have 103 with 70 games left in the season. The bullpen and a little defense made the lead stand up. Jared Hughes bailed Chris Resop out of a two-on, one-out jam in the seventh and Walker turned a double play to end the eighth, charging in from second to snag Greg Dobbs' chopper and tag Justin Ruggiano before firing to first to get Dobbs. Replays showed Walker's glove may not have touched Ruggiano, leading to an animated discussion between Miami manager Ozzie Guillen and second base umpire Dan Iassogna. The Marlins had one last shot in the ninth. Omar Infante led off with a single then moved to third on Austin Kearns' single with one out. Hanrahan regained his command, however, and struck out Reyes and Bonifacio to end it. NOTES: The series continues Saturday when Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett (10-3, 3.78 ERA) faces Miami's Carlos Zambrano (5-7, 4.22). ... Marlins 3B Hanley Ramirez entered as a pinch-runner in the ninth. Ramirez was held out of the lineup due to an infection in his right hand. ... The sellout was Pittsburgh's 10th of the season through 44 home dates. The club record for sellouts in a season is 19 set at PNC Park during its debut season in 2001.
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