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Pirates End Thrilling Sweep of Cubs with Offensive Outburst

Over the last 3 days, the Pittsburgh Pirates (23-24) treated their fans to three of the most interesting games PNC Park has seen this season.

The Pirates opened their series on Friday with the Chicago Cubs (15-32) by winning an A.J. Burnett slash bullpen combined gem 1-0.

Burnett went 5.1 innings in that one, striking out six batters along the way. Jared Hughes, Jason Grilli, Juan Cruz and Joel Hanrahan then combined to throw 3.2 shutout innings and seal the deal for the Baby Bears’ 10th straight loss.

Pedro Alvarez scored the game’s only run when Rod Barajas doubled him in.

On Saturday, Joel Hanrahan recorded the win for Pittsburgh. Any time that happens, you can be assured something weird took place at some point in the game.

After acceptable though not spectacular starts from both former Pirate Paul Maholm and current Pirate Kevin Correia, both sides entered the bottom of the ninth inning tied at two.

Cubs reliever Rafael Dolis took the mound for the bottom of the ninth, and promptly gave up a single to Jose Tabata and walked Josh Harrison. Andrew McCutchen struck out swinging before Alvarez flew out to center on a hard hit ball. Neil Walker then drew a walk on five pitches, bringing up Matt Hague with the bases loaded and two outs.

After working the count to 2-2, Hague took a pitch to the back to force Tabata home and give the Pirates a 3-2 victory by way of a walk-off HBP.

Sunday afternoon brought us an even better if not more dramatic game, as Pirates fans were treated to something of an offensive explosion.

The Pirates put up three runs in first inning, added one in the fifth and then tacked on six more during the sixth inning.

Alvarez (8), McCutchen (8) and Garrett Jones (5) all homered off Matt Garza.

Starter Erik Bedard threw six innings of shutout ball before turning it over to Chris Resop, who gave up three runs in two innings, and subsequently Juan Cruz, who allowed one in one.

The sweep of the Cubs put the Pirates a game under the .500 mark and four back of the NL Central lead. It also meant the Cubs had lost 12 consecutive games.

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