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Pirates take two of three from Baltimore with 5-4 win

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Andrew McCutchen had two hits and an RBI, helping the Pirates erase a 4-2 deficit and beat the Orioles 5-4 on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park. The Bucs bullpen turned in another fine performance with three scoreless innings, capped by Joel Hanrahan's nine-pitch 1-2-3 ninth inning

After Charlie Morton and James McDonald got quick hooks on consecutive days, the Pirates needed Kevin Correia to spare a taxed bullpen from another long day of work against the Orioles.

Correia's outing on Wednesday afternoon wasn't pretty -- he coughed up four runs on nine hits in six innings pitched -- but he kept the Bucs close enough to capitalize on a game-changing defensive mistake by the O's.

The Pirates earned a series win over Baltimore, rallying from behind for a 5-4 victory at PNC Park. Orioles rookie second baseman Blake Davis suffered a Bill Buckner moment that cost his club two runs and the Bucs' bullpen fired three more shutout frames to preserve the lead.

"We were gifted two runs there, and we took advantage of it," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We threw up zeroes out of the bullpen again and Correia gave it everything he had to get through the sixth. It's a team victory."

After Davis' costly between-the-legs error on a Josh Harrison grounder gave the Pirates a one-run lead, Daniel Moskos, Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan combined to keep the O's off the board.

Pittsburgh's bullpen gave up just a single run in 14.1 combined innings pitched during the series with Baltimore (33-39).

"I can't give enough credit to the bullpen for the work that they've done this entire series," Hurdle said. "It got down to the point today where we're counting pitches. Everybody was able to answer the bell and finish this thing off."

"We've been short on innings out of the starting rotation," Correia (9-6) said. "Six innings was kind of the minimum that I needed to get through today."

The Pirates (37-37) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, greeting Orioles starter Zach Britton (6-5) with three straight hits to start the game. Jose Tabata beat out a barehanded attempt by third baseman Mark Reynolds on a grounder, Harrison scampered in safe at first base on a bunt single and Andrew McCutchen lined an RBI single to left field that scored Tabata and advanced Harrison to third. Walker then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play that brought Harrison home.

Correia stranded runners at second base in the first two frames, working out of trouble after surrendering a double to Nick Markakis (3-for-5 on the day) in the first and Reynolds in the second. But the Orioles knotted the game at two apiece in the top of the third with three straight hits of their own.

Britton hit a leadoff single to left field and Hardy followed with a grounder that zipped past a diving Harrison at third base. Markakis then roped a curveball off the Clemente Wall in right field. Matt Diaz tried to barehand the ball after it hit the wall and bounced off the warning track dirt, but he bobbled it.

Britton, on base for the second time in his major league career, went back to tag up at second on Markakis' shot even though the ball was well over Diaz's head. Hardy nearly passed Britton on the bases, but the rookie regained his bearings and came around to score the Orioles' first run. Hardy advanced to third and Markakis pulled into second on Diaz's miscue. Adam Jones' ground out to second base tied the game at 2-2.

The O's added two more in the fourth inning. Luke Scott and Reynolds hit back-to-back singles and then moved into scoring position on a Davis fly out to deep left-center. Correia got Britton to ground out, but he then fell behind Hardy 3-and-0. While Correia worked the count full, Hardy doubled to left field on an up-and-in fastball to plate Scott and Reynolds.

McCutchen narrowed Baltimore's lead to one run in the fourth, doubling to deep center field, advancing to third base on a wild pitch and scoring on a Walker ground out.

Pittsburgh appeared to waste a prime scoring chance in the fifth, as Harrison hit a sharp grounder to second baseman Davis with runners on second and third and two outs. But Davis, making his first career appearance and start in the big leagues, channeled Bill Buckner.

Davis pulled his glove up a fraction of a second too fast, allowing Harrison's ground ball to scoot through his legs and trickle into the outfield. Mike McKenry and Brandon Wood scored on the error to give the Pirates a 5-4 lead.

Baltimore never threatened after that. Moskos allowed a lead-off infield single to Markakis in the seventh, but Resop retired the next two batters. Veras then tossed 1.1 scoreless innings, and Hanrahan set the O's down 1-2-3 in the ninth while throwing just nine pitches.

"We ran into a tough stretch there in Cleveland and the first game back here, but that's kind of been our M.O," Hanrahan said. "We scrap, we fight, and we took the last two games and we're going to ride that momentum into the Boston series.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle benched Ronny Cedeno on Wednesday, giving Brandon Wood the start at shortstop instead. Cedeno entered the game to play defense in the top of the ninth inning.

Cedeno made a curious bunt attempt in Tuesday night's contest, trying to lay one down with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning. Cedeno's bunt rolled foul and he eventually grounded into an inning-ending double play.

This is the second time that Hurdle has benched Cedeno for a poor on-field decision, as the shortstop sat out a game on April 27 after failing to run out a ground ball the night before.

20 FOR 20
After retiring the O's in order in the ninth, Joel Hanrahan became just the third Pirates closer to tally 20 saves before the All-Star break. Mike Williams (2002) and Jose Mesa (2004) also accomplished the feat, though with nowhere near the same dominance as Hanrahan has shown.

"There's a slim window to square him up right now," Hurdle said. "It's been as good of a run as I've seen in a very long time out of the bullpen. Everybody in the bullpen knows what their job is, and that's just to get the ball to Joel."

Hurdle then compared Hanrahan to a hard-throwing, burly closer who spent a lights-out 1977 season with the Bucs during his Hall of Fame career.

"The one guy that he does remind me of that I've face a few times is Goose Gossage," Hurdle continued. "He's a big-bodied guy out there and he's rearing back and letting it eat. If your foot's not down by the time he grunts, you're going to be late."

"You need to go check [Hurdle's] pulse in there," Hanrahan said with a smile. "That obviously a huge comparison. I'm just being aggressive. I've got a big body, so I'm using it."

Charlie Morton's next start will be skipped due to general fatigue. The Pirates have scheduled off days on Thursday and next Monday, and opponents are tattooing Morton for a .390 batting average, a .435 on-base percentage and a .476 slugging percentage in June.

With Zach Britton's 2-for-3 showing at the plate, Orioles starting pitchers now have seven hits in 15 at-bats this season.

Following an off day on Thursday, the Pirates welcome the Boston Red Sox back to PNC Park on Friday for the first time since 2003. LHP Jon Lester (9-3, 3.70 ERA) takes the mound for the first-place Red Sox, while LHP Paul Maholm (3-8, 3.29 ERA) will look to subdue a Boston lineup that ranks first in the majors in runs scored.

"They travel well. They're like The Beatles," Hurdle quipped about Boston's rabid fan base. "They'll have their own faithful. There is a Red Sox nation -- I learned that the hard way back in '07 [when Hurdle and the Rockies lost to the Red Sox in the World Series].

"They'll show up, they'll be loud, and I anticipate our fans showing up and being loud too. It's going to be a very exciting weekend, and we're looking forward to the challenge. There's no better way to take a look at where you are and who you are than when you play one of the best teams in baseball."

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