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Pirates' offense finally erupts in victory over Phillies

| Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 10:50 p.m.
The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen takes off his gloves after striking out against Phillies pitcher Raul Valdez in the first inning Wednesday, June 27, 2012, in Philadelphia. AP
Pirates pitcher James McDonald talks to Ray Searage and catcher Michael McKenry after Phillies' Carlos Ruiz hit a home run in the first inning Wednesday, June 27, 2012, in Philadelphia. AP
The Pirates' James McDonald throws a pitch against the Phillies in the first inning Wednesday, June 27, 2012, in Philadelphia. AP

PHILADELPHIA ­— Michael McKenry hit a three-run homer early and Andrew McCutchen drilled a two-run shot late, but it was Brad Lincoln who saved the game in the seventh.

With three runs already in, runners on first and second, no outs and the Pirates' lead sliced to one, Lincoln made his first relief appearance since rejoining the bullpen Sunday.

Hunter Pence struck out, Shane Victorino flied out and Lincoln punctuated it with a strikeout of pinch hitter Jim Thome, and the Pirates held on for an 11-7 win in front of 44,057 at Citizens Bank Park.

“That's special right there: The heart of the lineup, tying run at second and go-ahead run at first, and every hitter that comes up can clear the bases,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He just went right after them with quality pitches. Live fastball, sharp breaking ball and a very gutsy call by McKenry, and (Lincoln) to throw the 3-2 slider down in the dirt to Pence so he can get a swing on it.”

The Pirates piled up 11 runs and 14 hits — both season highs — against the Phillies' bullpen and snapped a three-game losing streak.

The three-hour, 32-minute game was not lacking in drama.

Chase Utley, fresh off the disabled list, hit a home run in his first at-bat of the year, followed by another solo shot from Carlos Ruiz in the next at-bat. The Phillies' catcher has eight hits in his last 13 at-bats and has homered twice off the Pirates in this series.

Pirates starter James McDonald settled down and retired 13 of 14 batters beginning in the second inning.

“(The Phillies) have been swinging the bat well the two previous games,” McDonald said. “I just wanted to try to hold them there.”

McKenry blasted a three-run homer off Raul Valdes in the second to erase the Phillies' 2-0 lead and quiet the crowd. The Pirates added two more in the fourth off Joe Savery, including a solo home run by Casey McGehee. They scored three runs in the fifth, giving them one more run in five innings than they had totaled in the previous two games combined.

The Phillies cut the lead in half in the sixth, ending not only McDonald's night but also his 14-start streak of allowing three or fewer runs.

Drew Sutton hit an RBI double in the eighth before McCutchen hammered a home run to right, giving the Pirates breathing room.

Karen Price is a sports writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kprice@tribweb.com.

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