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Russell Martin comes up big as Pirates win again, have Brewers on ropes

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Martin's huge eighth-inning three-run homer paced the Pirates in a 4-2 win that put the Bucs up 4.5 games over the Brewers in the Wild Card race.

Jeff Locke allowed two runs over seven innings, including an RBI single by Jonathan Lucroy in the first and a leadoff homer by Rickie Weeks in the fifth that just cleared the wall in left center and put Milwaukee up 2-0. In the eighth, John Holdzkom replaced Locke and somehow didn't strike anyone out, but pitched a scoreless inning anyway.

The Pirates did all their damage in the bottom of the eighth. Starling Marte led off with a ground ball single capped by a safe call that was upheld on review. With one out, Marte moved to second on a single by Neil Walker. And then Martin smashed a three-run shot to right center to put the Pirates up 3-2. It was a huge moment -- the crowd went nuts as Martin circled the bases while shouting and pumping his fist. Before this month, this Bucs season hadn't felt like it had that many miracle moments, but now it seems like the Pirates are making up for lost time.

Travis Snider and Andrew Lambo then singled, and Ike Davis followed two batters later with a ground-ball single to bring home an insurance run. Mark Melancon then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.

Anyway, the Pirates are now 4.5 games clear of the last playoff spot, and it would take a spectacular implosion for them to miss now. They're also just one game back of the Giants for the top Wild Card spot, so there's still at least some chance of them hosting the Wild Card game at PNC, even if they can't catch up with the Cardinals.