For the second straight game, the Pirates were one strike away from having their one-run lead hold up for a victory only to have the game extended. Instead of running another 18-inning marathon, though, Josh Harrison slammed the second pitch of the bottom of the ninth to the center-field wall for a triple and, when Scooter Gennett's throw went wild, trotted home for a 3-2 Pirates win over the Brewers on Tuesday night.
With a 2-1 lead, Mark Melancon walked Ryan Braun to lead off the top of the ninth, then Jonathan Lucroy singled. Melancon rebounded to strike out Chris Carter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but Hernan Perez sent a 2-2 cutter back up the middle for a tying single. Melancon avoided further damage, getting Ramon Flores to pop out, and for his blown-save efforts was given a win when Harrison promptly ended this one.
The Pirates took a quick 2-0 with two walks and two hits in the first, with David Freese's single and the returning Francisco Cervelli's sacrifice fly driving in the runs.
The Bucs only got one more hit off Junior Guerra from that point, though, the surprising 31-year-old's 94-MPH heat and tricky splitter getting the best of batters through six innings, getting six strikeouts versus three walks.
In the meantime, Jameson Taillon had a major scare, getting hit in the back of the head by a Perez liner in the second. After a couple minutes of medical attention, though, Taillon remained in the game, which seemed incredibly risky. But what do I know?
Anyway, Taillon gave up his only run in the fifth, when Carter doubled to left and was advanced by two groundouts. Taillon didn't issue a walk in his six innings, striking out three and conceding five hits.
The Pirates couldn't add any insurance runs, though they got runners to third in the seventh and eighth innings. Jordy Mercer tripled to lead off the seventh, but Matt Joyce tapped out and John Jaso and Gregory Polanco struck out. Andrew McCutchen walked and got to third with two outs, but Cervelli fanned.
For a team in the Pirates' position, the table is set quite nicely. The Brewers and Reds were thorns in their sides last year, though. It was nice to start this stretch with a win. For the Bucs to make something of themselves in 2016, they'll have to take advantage of the schedule and turn it on right about now.