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Bucs batter Wakefield in return to Pittsburgh

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For the second consecutive night, the Pirates knocked off the class of the AL, beating the Red Sox 6-4. Lyle Overbay's three-run shot in the bottom of the 4th gave Pittsburgh a lead it never relinquished and Joel Hanrahan picked up his 22nd save of the season.

The last time that Tim Wakefield made a start in Pittsburgh, Three Rivers Stadium still stood. Sid Bream's slide was a fresh wound for Pirates fans, and Jose Tabata had just celebrated his fifth birthday.

On Saturday night, the knuckleballer made his first career start as a visitor in the city where his major league career began. And Wakefield, the only active player from the Pirates' last playoff team, was touched up by a group of Young Bucs who hope to make that distinction a piece of outdated trivia.

Buoyed by Lyle Overbay and Garrett Jones homers and more high-stakes gunslinging from the bullpen, the Pirates bested Boston 6-4 in front of a crowd of 39,483, the largest ever in PNC Park history. With the win, Pittsburgh (39-37) is two games above .500 and sits just three games back of the first-place Brewers in the NL Central standings.

"A big ball game and a good win," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's summertime and it's a great feeling out there right now. The guys are really embracing the fans and playing with a lot of energy. They're almost playing like they're six in the backyard. There's just a lot of people in the backyard."

Boston (44-32) built an early 2-0 lead on Pirates starter Jeff Karstens. In the first inning, Dustin Pedroia walked, stole second and advanced to third when catcher Mike McKenry's throw hit him and rolled into the outfield. An Adrian Gonzalez ground out brought Pedroia home. During his next at-bat in the third inning, Gonzalez swatted a 2-0 fastball the opposite way for a solo home run.

Wakefield (4-3) blanked the Pirates over the first three innings, but he lost his touch with the flutterball in the fourth.

With one out, Andrew McCutchen reached on an infield single on a ground ball to Kevin Youkilis, whose throw pulled Gonzalez off the first base bag. McCutchen then stole second base with Neil Walker at the plate, and Walker drew a free pass later in the at-bat.

That brought up Overbay, who ended a 24-game, 77 at-bat homerless stretch by belting a 3-2 knuckler over the Clemente Wall.

"He threw me a fastball [at 74 MPH] on 3-and-1, and with runners in scoring position he doesn't necessarily do that," Overbay said. "[The knuckleball] kind of just hung there. So just being able to face him that many times I knew what that was going to do."

Overbay is 10-for-28 all-time versus Wakefield, with a pair of home runs.

"Well-timed," Hurdle said. "That's what we've been planning on getting from Lyle on occasion -- a big swing of the bat to drive in some runs. And the last two nights he has come out swinging the bat really crisp, driving the ball and staying behind the ball. It's a welcome addition to our lineup."

Ronny Cedeno then ripped the first pitch he saw down the left field line for a double. Wakefield got McKenry to pop up for the second out, but Karstens notched his first career RBI in the majors by singling up the middle to make it 4-2 Pirates.

The Bucs tacked on another run against Wakefield in the fifth. Chase d'Arnaud legged out an infield single on a ground ball to short and advanced to third when Jones drove a pitch into the right-center field gap.

McCutchen hit a grounder right at second baseman Dustin Pedroia, but the ball trickled through his legs, scoring d'Arnaud, advancing Jones to third and allowing McCutchen to dart into second base on the error.

After Walker popped out to shallow center field, Wakefield intentionally walked Overbay to load the bases for Cedeno. Wakefield kept Boston's deficit at three by inducing a 6-3 double-play.

Wakefield gave up seven hits and five runs in six innings pitched, striking out two while uncorking two wild pitches.

"It's almost like slow-pitch softball," Hurdle said of hitting the knuckleball. "We were able to have a relaxed mentality and just sit there, let him deliver the ball and hit it where you think it's going to end up, because there's no true pattern to follow."

Boston pulled to within one run in the seventh when Josh Reddick and Jacoby Ellsbury hit solo home runs to center field. Hurdle pulled Karstens after the Ellsbury shot in favor of Daniel McCutchen, who served up a Pedroia double to deep center.

With two outs and the tying run in scoring position, Hurdle summoned Daniel Moskos to take on Gonzalez. Moskos fell behind the vaunted slugger 2-and-1. But he snapped off a slider dotting the outside corner of the plate, and Gonzalez grounded out to Walker to end the inning.

Karstens (5-4) lasted 6.2 innings, allowing six hits and four runs (three earned) while striking out two Red Sox and walking three. He threw 109 pitches, way above his previous season high of 97.

"Karstens gave us a big start," Hurdle said. "He went deep in the game with his pitch countand gave us everything he had...We've got to push the envelope in some areas once and a while to alleviate some of that workload [on the bullpen].

"Maybe there was a little fatigue there [in the seventh]. In retrospect you always like to make a different move when a guy gives up two runs. But if I had to burn another one or two guys out of the bullpen we might not have been able to finish up the way that we did."

"Each time out I feel like I'm getting stronger," Karstens said. "It gives me a lot of confidence that Clint sent me out in the seventh."

In the bottom half of the frame, Jones deposited a Matt Albers fastball over the right-center field wall to give the Pirates a two-run cushion.

The Red Sox threatened again in the eighth. With Tim Woodpitching, Youkilis reached base when Overbay couldn't pick a throw from Cedeno out of the dirt. Tony Watson entered, striking out J.D. Drew swinging and getting Jarrod Saltalamacchiato fly out to center field, but Reddick then singled to right field.

The next batter, Marco Scutaro, pulled the trigger on the first pitch on a middle-of-the-plate fastball from Watson. He hit a can of corn for McCutchen in center field, however, ending the inning.

Joel Hanrahan dropped the hammer again in the ninth, retiring two of the game's most feared lefty bats in the process.

Hanrahan and pinch-hitter David Ortiz engaged in a nine-pitch duel, with Hanrahan throwing all fastballs and eventually getting Big Papito ground out weakly to first base. Ellsbury flied out to left field for the second out.

Pedroia then hit a fly ball to the Clemente Wall that Xavier Paul, who pinch-hit and stayed in the game to play right field, jumped for and seemed to snag for the final out. But the ball popped out of his glove on the way down as fireworks prematurely went off beyond the center field wall.

Hanrahan triggered a second round of Zambellis when he froze Gonzalez on a 1-2 slider in the next at-bat -- the only breaking ball the Bucs' closer threw in 24 pitches during the inning.

"Any time you're out there like that, it's just electric," Hanrahan said. "I don't know if you guys noticed, but after I got two outs I kind of just took my time getting back on the rubber because I knew the crowd was going to start cheering...it's just awesome pitching in an atmosphere like that, and [the fans] have been great all year for us." 

Prior to Saturday's game, the Pirates designated C Dusty Brown for assignment and purchased the contract of C/OF Eric Fryer from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Fryer, 25, was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th round of the 2007 draft. He was traded to the New York Yankees for LHP Chase Wright in February of 2009 and was acquired by the Pirates that June along with RHP Casey Erickson for Eric Hinske and cash.

The 6-foot-2, 215 pound right-handed hitter has split his time between catcher and the corner outfield spots, batting .345/.427/.549 in 134 plate appearances at Altoona before earning a promotion to Indianapolis on May 30. In his first taste of Triple-A, Fryer hit .262/.377/.446 in 79 plate appearances.

Brown, a former Red Sox prospect, signed a minor league contract with the Pirates over the offseason. The 29-year-old hit .263/.348/.535 in 115 plate appearances at Indianapolis before getting the big league call on May 30. He struggled in his short time with Pittsburgh, batting .107/.138/.107 in 30 plate appearances while failing to record an extra-base hit. Brown figures to clear waivers and end up back at Indianapolis.

Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez went deep to the opposite field against Karstens on Saturday nightfor his 16th home run of the season. Not that Gonzalez's opposite-field pop should surprise anyone: the lefty slugger has hit half of his homers to the opposite field this season and has the highest slugging percentagein the majors on balls hit the other way. Left Field Loonies, you've been warned.

LHP Andrew Miller (0-0, 4.76 ERA) opposes RHP James McDonald (7-4, 4.86 ERA) on Sunday afternoon. Miller, a top-10 pick in the 2006 draft by the Tigers who was shipped to Florida as part of the Miguel Cabrera deal, was traded to Boston this past offseason for LHP Dustin Richardson. In his first start for the Red Sox on June 20, Miller showed better stuff than he had in years by sitting around 93 MPH on the radar gun and touching 95. The 6-foot-7 lefty struck out six and walked three, allowing seven hits and three runs in 5.2 innings versus the Padres.

McDonald has followed up a stellar month of May with a control-challenged June. He has more walks (16) than whiffs (12) while coughing up 11 runs in 20.1 innings pitched. The lanky right-hander has the second-highest walk rate (4.7 per nine innings) among starting pitchersqualified for the ERA title.

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