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Wednesday April 23 2014
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Offensive surge helps Bucs down Twins

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Pittsburgh recorded 12 hits and Kevin Correia pitched five scoreless innings as the Pirates leveled Minnesota 7-2 for their third consecutive win.

Suddenly, the Pirates are an offensive juggernaut. After scoring 18 runs in their last two games Pittsburgh continued the recent wave by posting seven on the Minnesota Twins tonight.

It took little time for the Bucs to get started as the first inning saw three hits and one walk that left the bases loaded for Pittsburgh. Only one run resulted, however.

Josh Harrison’s second homerun of the year put the Bucs up 1-0 early but the story of the first frame was Pittsburgh’s missed opportunity to open a big lead early.

Wasted chances are less damaging when facing teams 13 games below .500, though. That was the case on this night.

Pittsburgh starter Kevin Correia allowed just four hits through the first five innings and the Pirates made up for the early gaffe by playing small ball in the fifth.

Manager Clint Hurdle raved of his starting pitcher after the game, "I think we tend to forget that the first half of last season [Correia] was pretty good. He made and all-star team and he has some experience to draw on. He stayed in counts and he kept making pitches tonight."

Harrison again fueled the Bucs attack as he kicked off the fifth inning with a single and proceeded to steal second base. Andrew McCutchen drew a walk and, after a double steal, Pittsburgh had runners on second and third base with only one out.

"[McCutchen] knew I was going. He looked at me and I had a good lead and he followed," Harrison said of the double steal. "We just had a feel for the game. You pick up on pitcher's tendencies."

A Casey McGehee sacrifice fly sent Harrison across home plate and gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead. Neil Walker was unable to add any cushion.

Minnesota threatened in the top of the sixth inning when Ben Revere reached second by way of a walk and stolen base.

Josh Willingham moved Revere to third base but the left fielder couldn't make his way home thanks to the strong center field play of McCutchen.

Pedro Alvarez compounded the Twins problem in the bottom of the frame when he singled and scored thanks to a Clint Barmes double.

"We talked about committing to a game plan in Baltimore," Hurdle said of the recently hot Alvarez. "The volume of pitches that are being thrown to him away and what he has been able to do with them and what he should do with them. He has been able to make some progress along those lines."

A wild pitch and Matt Hague sacrifice later, and Barmes was the Pirate crossing home plate.

"When you work as hard as we have this year it's nice to find something that clicks," Barmes said of his night at the plate. "It's been a lot better (lately) then when I started. I found a way to relax a little bit more at the plate."

Minnesota escaped the inning only four runs down before a wild seventh frame.

Denard Span rocked a Juan Cruz pitch over the right field fence to pull the Twins within two but Minnesota failed to advance any other runners home.

Harrison again sparked the Pittsburgh offense by reaching base for the third time in his third at-bat. McCutchen took care of the rest.

The Pirates franchise player belted his 12th home run to left field and recorded his first RBI in six games to push Pittsburgh in front 6-2. An Alvarez double and Rod Barajas sacrifice fly extended the lead to 7-2 before the inning closed.

Scoreless eighth and ninth innings sealed the deal for Pittsburgh.

The two teams will face at PNC Park again tomorrow night at 7:05 when the Bucs' Erik Bedard takes on Francisco Liriano.

It’s all starting to make sense. The Steelers have not made the playoffs the past two seasons. Those two years have seen the team part ways with players who were integral to a sustained run of success that resulted in a pair of Super Bowl championships.
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