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Jon Niese, Pirates' defense shut down Brewers, 5-0

Justin Berl/Getty Images

Jon Niese pitched seven scoreless innings while leading the Pirates to a much-needed 5-0 win over the Brewers Saturday night.

Niese only got three strikeouts against three walks, but he got 13 ground-ball outs and, obviously, was effective overall. It didn't hurt that the Pirates got some nice defensive work, as Jordy Mercer made some tough plays and Gregory Polanco, John Jaso and David Freese all pitched in as well.

The Bucs' offense, meanwhile, got to work against Taylor Jungmann, a not-particularly-impressive pitcher who gave the Pirates fits last year. Starling Marte led off the fourth with a double, then moved up on a single by Francisco Cervelli. Polanco then brought home a run with a groundout, Josh Harrison scored another run with a triple off the Clemente Wall, and Mercer cashed in a third with a sacrifice fly. Then, the following inning, Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the year, a solo shot to left.

In the bottom of the eighth, after Tony Watson fought through a tough top half in which he issued a pair of free passes, the Bucs added an extra run against reliever Sam Freeman, thanks to walks from Cervelli and Polanco and a single by Harrison.

The victory returns the Pirates to .500, at 6-6.