The Pirates' offense overcame the shortcomings of their pitching and defense, and they outslugged the Braves, 10-8, to open their weekend series at historic Turner Field.
Neil Walker and Starling Marte each hit big home runs and the Pirates totaled 14 hits. That was all needed, as the Braves got 14 hits of their own and the Bucs made four errors.
Atlanta got on the board first, with three straight hits to start leading to two first-inning runs. The second came when Walker couldn't handle an easy A.J. Pierzynski grounder.
The Pirates quickly responded, with Francisco Cervelli's single driving in Jung-Ho Kang in the second.
Charlie Morton was not sharp, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks, with one strikeout, in five innings.
Walker put the Pirates ahead temporarily with a no-doubt three-run home run homer in the fifth. Marte's two-run shot ended his 0-for-21 slump and regained the lead in the sixth. The Pirates scored three more in the eighth, capped by Andrew McCutchen's RBI double.
Cervelli plated Josh Harrison on a clean single in the ninth inning after Harrison reached on a strange play. Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons may have thrown his glove at the ball after it bounced away from Juan Uribe, but it wasn't called and, apparently, couldn't be reviewed.
The bullpen had a rocky night. After a clean sixth inning by Antonio Bastardo, Arquimedes Caminero gave up a run despite striking out the side in the seventh. Tony Watson allowed another run, lasting just 2-3 of an inning, getting pulled for Jared Hughes even with the left-handed-hitting Nick Markakis due up. Hughes got Markakis to ground out to end the threat, but Mark Melancon had a rough ninth, throwing away a potential game-ending double-play ball to let another run in before Jordy Mercer did turn a double play to end it.
Cervelli finished 4-for-5 and Gregory Polanco, Marte and McCutchen each had two hits. Marte's game was particularly impressive as he busted out of his skid with a 2-for-3 performance with two walks, three runs and three RBIs. He also tracked down a Pedro Ciriaco liner to prevent another multi-run outburst for the Braves in the second.
The defense and to some extent the bullpen remain concerning, but I find myself more encouraged than not by this one. You're going to have to win 10-8 games now and then, even in 2015; it's good to know this team has that ability.