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Pirates rally way past rival Brewers for rare win at Miller Park

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 4:48 p.m.
The Pirates' Starling Marte (left) and Travis Snider high-five after Marte's two-run home run against the Brewers during the eighth inning Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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Pirates closer Jason Grilli (right) celebrates with Michael McKenry after the 6-4 win over the Brewers on Wednesday, April 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
The Pirates' Brandon Inge reacts after hitting an RBI triple against the Brewers during the eighth inning Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen returns to the dugout after the sixth inning against the Brewers, Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Jeanmar Gomez pitches in the bottom of the first inning against the Brewers on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers beats the throw to Pedro Alvarez at third base on a single by Jonathan Lucroy in the bottom of the first inning at Miller Park on May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez makes a quick throw to first base to get the Brewers' Jean Segura during the bottom of the third inning Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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The Brewers' Ryan Braun dives back to first base to avoid a tag during the bottom of the third inning against the Pirates on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Jeanmar Gomez pitches in the bottom of the third inning against the Brewers on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
The Brewers' Khris Davis steals second base as the Pirates' John McDonald fields the late throw in the seventh inning Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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The Brewers' Khris Davis beats the throw to the Pirates' John McDonald during bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Brandon Inge turns the double play as the Brewers' Jean Segura slides into second base during the seventh inning Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Starling Marte (right) celebrates after hitting a two-run homer, scoring Travis Snider (23) in the top of the eighth inning against the Brewers on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
The Brewers' Carlos Gomez watches his home run with Pirates catcher Michael McKenry during the fourth inning Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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The Brewers' Jean Segura is unable to make the running throw to first base to get the Pirates' Travis Snider during the top of the eight inning Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
The Brewers' Yuniesky Betancourt gestures as he celebrates after hitting a home run against the Pirates during the fourth inning Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
The Brewers' Jean Segura (left) steals second base as the Pirates' Brandon Inge takes the late throw during the first inning Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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The Brewres' Jean Segura reaches home on a single hit by Ryan Braun during the bottom of the first inning against the Pirates on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
The Brewers' John Axford reacts during the eighth inning against the Pirates on Wednesday, April 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Starling Marte is congratulated by third base coach Nick Leyva after hitting a two-run homer scoring Travis Snider in the top of the eighth inning against the Brewers on Wednesday, April 1, 2013, in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE — Starling Marte didn't lead off the Pirates' 6-4 win over the Brewers with a hit Wednesday, which was noteworthy: He entered with an MLB-best .636 batting average in the first inning.

But in the eighth inning, he did something more meaningful. Marte tied the game with a single lightning-quick swing, and he helped the Pirates avoid a sweep and secure a winning road trip.

Marte turned around a 95 mph John Axford fastball, crushing a two-run shot that slammed off the facade of the concourse beyond the left-center field wall and tying the score, 4-4. Brandon Inge followed with his third game-winning hit of the road trip, an RBI single to right off Axford (0-3), to put the Pirates ahead for good.

“I know (Axford) throws me fastballs,” Marte said. “I was ready for a fastball.”

The four-run eighth allowed the Pirates to secure a sixth win on the 10-game road trip. The Pirates began by taking three of four at Philadelphia — including three straight wins in games started by Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee — and then won a series at St. Louis before traveling to Milwaukee.

Another clutch hit — Pedro Alvarez's RBI single in the eighth — gave the Pirates a rare win at Miller Park, a building that been a personal house of horrors. The Pirates are 8-46 in Milwaukee since 2007.

Alvarez and Michael McKenry added solo homers in the victory, which snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Brewers.

“It's a great finish to a 19-game stretch and a very solid road trip,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We come to play regardless of the noise around us. We understand the situations and challenges, but we are going to play. Today was the perfect example of a game where probably some people thought we weren't in a good place.”

Starting in place of former starter Jonathan Sanchez, who was designated for assignment a day earlier, Jeanmar Gomez failed to pitch into the fifth inning. Over four innings, Gomez allowed four hits, three runs — two earned — and two walks. He struck out three.

Gomez's sinker seemed to be an ideal pitch to combat Miller Park, which surrendered seven home runs Tuesday. But Gomez's sinker was not sinking often enough. In the fourth, he left fastballs elevated to Carlos Gomez and Yuniesky Betancourt, who hit back-to-back home runs and staked the Brewers to a 3-1 lead.

Hurdle said before the game if Gomez offered the Pirates “something significant” he could be considered for another start. Instead, Gomez became the latest Pirates pitcher to fail to log a quality start. The Pirates can afford to skip their fifth starter until next weekend's series at New York, when Francisco Liriano, who is pitching well at Triple-A Indianapolis, is expected to be added to the rotation.

“We have some options in front of us,” Hurdle said.

Hurdle was limited with his bullpen options this series. The Pirates lead the National League in relief innings pitched, and Hurdle wanted to give some of his bullpen arms rest. So in the seventh, he left left-handed Justin Wilson in to face Brewers' right-handed hitting shortstop Jean Segura, who is batting .500 (13 for 26) against lefties this year. Segura ripped an RBI single to center to give the Brewers a 4-2 lead.

But after the four-run eighth, which gave Bryan Morris (1-1) his first major league win, Hurdle called on trusted arms Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli, who remained perfect in holding and saving leads. Grilli's save was his NL-leading 11th.

“It's always big to stop a losing streak,” Morris said. “This team is resilient.”

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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