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Russell Martin: 'It's hard to be happier'

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Justin K. Aller

Notes and quotes from after the game:

Martin ignites a celebration

There are some home runs that are no-doubters. There are some that take you by surprise and are fluky (hello, Yankee Stadium). Then there are, for my money, the best kind: the ones that keep you guessing the whole time. Tonight, Russell Martin hit one of the best kinds, in the best setting, and it probably couldn't have come at a better time or against a better team.

Martin's three-run home run in the eighth inning catapulted the Pirates to a 3-2 lead, and paved the way for a dramatic 4-2 victory. The Pirates magic number for making the postseason is now five.

When Martin made contact and the ball started its ascent, it wasn't clear that it would reach the warning track. But maybe it had a chance. That's when you look at the outfielders. Carlos Gomez had pivoted and by the angle he was running it was clear the ball was probably at least headed to the wall.

Another quick look at the ball showed it halfway into its descent and now the center field crowd was standing. Then, the slowly building roar from the crowd jumped a level. Gomez kept going back, and the arms of the fans in the front rows began to extend. Gomez and the Ryan Braun were now halfway deep onto the warning track and they weren't slowing down.

When Martin's high arcing parabola landed in the right center field stands the growing roar turned into ... well, it sounded like a single person screaming loudly in your ear for a split second. Then, thousands of hands shot up all around the park and the scream turned into thunder.

"It was one of those that was going to be close," Martin said. "I saw Gomez run after it and then when I saw it clear, it's hard to be happier."

Martin had reached first base when the ball went over the fence. When the park started to shake, he was rounding first. And then it seemed like the cacophony of joy that surrounded him suddenly jolted through his body and he broke into a gallop for a few steps, pumped his fist and started yelling. In the dugout there was a celebration unlike any I've seen in two years of doing this.

"I feel like the crowd kind of helped it to leave," Martin said. "They were cheering for it to go and the vibrations carried the ball out. ... I never heard the stadium so loud. It was special."

"It was pure mayhem," Gerrit Cole said of the reaction in the dugout. "Pure mayhem, nobody really knew what was happening or what was being said, it was just being said at max effort. A lot of punches were being thrown. Some high-fives, some handshakes. Complete mayhem."

Travis Snider was in the on-deck circle when the celebration erupted around him.

"To see it from the best view in the house outside maybe the catcher or the pitcher, it's exciting," Snider said. "Russ gave me a pretty aggressive forearm there. I'm sure the celebration in the dugout was electric. When I'm stepping into the box there, I know the fans wanted him to come out and tip his cap and I'm not sure if I should get in or give him a pitch or two there."

Tony Sanchez was stuck in the bullpen and it was killing him not being there to greet Martin, so much so that he "ran the (bleep) in[to the dugout]" when the Brewers changed pitchers. When he got there, he hugged Martin and told him, "I'll back you up for a decade if I have to."

Jeff Locke was in the clubhouse.

"That is as close as I've ever been to coming back out, in my shorts and everything," Locke said. "It was unbelievable. He is the definition of our team, that's why it's important."

Locke was the first one to greet Martin with a hug after he left the field and emerged from the tunnel towards the clubhouse. They walked together, backslapping their way to the clubhouse doors.

"It was an exciting night on the North Shore for us tonight," Clint Hurdle said. "For everybody."

Locke and Harrison

Much more should be written about Locke's start and Josh Harrison's defense, but Martin's home run stole the show.

Locke's control was impeccable. He went seven good innings without a walk and threw 58 strikes on 82 pitches.

"Locke pitched a professional game," Hurdle said. "At the end of the day he might want three pitches back. ... He threw 82 pitches and might have had three misses. He threw 79 quality pitches."

Josh Harrison's defense was also impeccable. He gobbled up 10 assists on the night, which left him one short of tying the major league single game assist record for third basemen.

"How about the night Harrison has a third base?" Hurdle said. "How many plays did he make over there? Crazy good."