The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 14, 2013

Third straight win gives Bucs share of NL Central lead

PITTSBURGH — The first pitch Andrew McCutchen saw from New York Mets reliever David Aardsma sent the Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star center fielder sprawling.

The second ended up in the seats.

McCutchen responded from the brushback by belting a homer to tie the game in the sixth and then provided the go-ahead single in the seventh to help the Pirates rally for a 4-2 victory on Saturday.

"I was just ready to hit," McCutchen said. "Come up and in and (I) just like to bear down and be ready to hit and that's what happened."

Justin Wilson (6-1) earned the victory in relief of starter A.J. Burnett. All-Star closer Jason Grilli worked a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 29th save. The victory assured Pittsburgh (56-36) of its best record at the All-Star break since 1975 and moved the Pirates into a tie with St. Louis for the top spot in the NL Central.

"We just want to continue to keep rolling," McCutchen said.

That's hardly an issue at the moment for Pittsburgh, which responded to a four-game losing streak by ripping off three straight wins.

Three years after posting the worst record in baseball at 57-105, the Pirates can match their entire win total of that miserable season with a victory in Sunday's series finale.

"Nobody is satisfied," manager Clint Hurdle said.

No, but they're certainly encouraged. The bullpen picked up its 21st win of the season — tied for the major league high — when Wilson bailed Burnett out of a two-on, two-out jam in the sixth. The Mets managed just one hit the rest of the way, giving the Pirates all the room they would need to rally from an early 2-0 deficit.

Marlon Byrd and Eric Young had two hits apiece for the Mets, but New York's relievers faltered in relief of spot starter Carlos Torres.

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