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Pirates notebook: Team's hitting making steady progress

| Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' Russell Martin pumps his fist after driving in the winning run with a walk-off base-hit against the Marlins Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, at PNC Park.

DENVER — The Pirates went into Friday's game against the Colorado Rockies with 28 come-from-behind victories. That's the third-most in the National League behind the Braves (37) and Diamondbacks (31).

Russell Martin capped the latest comeback Thursday with a game-winning single in the 10th inning against the Marlins. It was Martin's third walkoff RBI, which is tops in the league.

“It's nice to get in situations where you can help the team win,” Martin said. “I love those situations. You feel alive. I love the intensity because it heightens my focus.”

The Pirates generally have improved their batting statistics since the All-Star break but still rank in the bottom half of the league in most areas.

“Offensively, we're not at the top of the league standings in many areas,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “But the fact is, our guys play. We try to figure things out and give it everything we've got. The men are very unselfish.”

Hurdle noted the Pirates have improved at doing “the little things” better as the season's gone on. After going almost two months without a sacrifice fly, they've hit seven in the past two weeks.

“And we've been able to take advantage of other teams' mistakes,” Hurdle said. “When you make a mistake or don't get an out or you give them an extra out, good teams shove that on you. We've been able to do that in a couple different ways.

No hard feelings

Hurdle was fired as Rockies manager in May 2009, not even two full seasons after leading the team to the World Series. He'd produced one winning season in seven years. Yet Hurdle insisted he isn't tempted to say “told you so” when he comes back to Coors Field, guiding the team with the best record in baseball.

“There's satisfaction as far as this is what we're doing together in Pittsburgh,” Hurdle said. “There were people who believed in me in Colorado. I got my first coaching opportunity here. There's nothing but great memories here. I was able to spend a long — too long for some people — time here as the manager. It's all good. It's all about Pittsburgh.”

Around the horn

Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (forearm tightness) is slated to throw up to 25 total pitches, fastballs and change-ups only, in a bullpen session Saturday. ... The Pirates signed Dominican outfielder Jeremias Portorreal for $375,000. Portorreal, 16, is a left-handed batter. He's the team's third recruit — and its second-highest bonus (shortstop Adrian Valerio got $400,000) — since the signing period began July 2.

Honoring the Great One

To mark the 40th anniversary of his Hall of Fame induction, the late Roberto Clemente will be feted with the Legacy Award at the Josh Gibson Negro League Gala. The event is set for Aug. 24 at the Wyndham Grand Hotel, Downtown. For tickets, call 412-771-6949.

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