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Pirates win 8-6 (again), return to .500

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Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

In a near-replay of yesterday's game, the Pirates nearly blew a big lead in the ninth inning but ended up ... winning by a score of 8-6. I drifted off at some point in the ninth inning, then woke up just as the game finished. It was confusing.

But let's ignore the bullpen adventures for a second and focus on the positive. Jordy Mercer led off the second inning with a homer, and then the Pirates loaded the bases and scored on Gregory Polanco's groundout. Then in the fourth, Chris Stewart singled and Polanco walked, and they both came home on Andrew McCutchen's 11th homer of the year.

Charlie Morton allowed a couple runs in the fourth, but otherwise got through seven innings without much trouble, and the Pirates opened up a huge lead in the fifth on Mercer's opposite-field RBI double, Morton's run-scoring sacrifice bunt and Polanco's RBI single.

Polanco's hit binge continued with two singles, McCutchen continued to look like an MVP candidate, and Mercer continued to swim back toward the surface.

And then, the ninth inning. Well, actually, who cares. Stolmy Pimentel allowed two two-run homers, and the Pirates turned to Jason Grilli to close the door, which he did. I'd love to see Pimentel succeed, but this wasn't like last night's mess, where the best pitchers in the bullpen were having trouble. And let's enjoy this -- the Pirates' offense is destroying the ball right now, and the Bucs are back at .500 (34-34) for the first time since April.