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With Pirates' winning ways, tickets not as easy to come by

For Greg Boerio of McCandless, memories of the days when the Pirates came off an All-Star break steamrolling toward a winning season are difficult to recollect.

"I turned 7 during the summer of 1992, so I mostly remember how excited my grandfather and father were about the team that year," said Boerio, 25, as he tailgated with several friends before Monday's game against the Cincinnati Reds.

"I was raised to support the hometown team, so it hasn't been easy. But I'm loving it this year. I'm really flying high and feeling very optimistic," he said.

While scoring a ticket to last night's game wasn't all that difficult, some fans -- especially those traveling from out of town -- didn't take any chances.

"We originally planned to just come out to the ballpark before the game and buy tickets, but when we got here today and saw all the people, we decided to order them so we didn't miss out," said Bill Rahrig, 42, a "die-hard" Steelers fan who drove from Payne, Ohio, near the Indiana border with his wife, Cindy, and daughter, Paige, 14, to see Heinz Field and watch the Pirates play.

The Rahrigs' caution might well have been warranted, considering that even after a 45-minute rain delay, PNC Park was nearly two-thirds full at the start of the game.

Not bad for a Monday night, and unheard of in this century.

Mark Witkowski, 24, of Millvale has been to nearly 20 games this year.

"I don't care if I end up with a standing room ticket or if I have to get them from a scalper," Witkowski said.

"I supported the Pirates back when they didn't do so well, so now that they are winning, I'm really stoked."

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