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Harrison's 5 RBIs help Pirates pound Brewers

| Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, 11:51 p.m.
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The Pirates' Josh Harrison follows through on an RBI double that scored teammates Gaby Sanchez and Starling Marte during the second inning against the Brewers on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun (8) can't catch a two-run double hit by the Pirates' Josh Harrison during the second inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
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Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks leaps over the Pirates' Russell Martin after forcing him out and turning a double play on a ground ball hit by Gaby Sanchez during the third inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
The Brewers' Aramis Ramirez (center) is called out at third base by umpire Will Little (right) after being tagged out by Pirates third baseman Josh Harrison during the sixth inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
A fan (top left) reacts after the Pirates' Josh Harrison hit a two-run home run against the Brewers during the eighth inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen follows through on a solo home run during the fifth inning against the Brewers on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
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The Brewers' Khris Davis reacts after striking out during the eighth inning against the Pirates on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Jordy Mercer (left) and Neil Walker celebrate their win over the Brewers on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (left) crosses the plate after hitting a home run against the Brewers during the fifth inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Josh Harrison connects on a two-run home run, scoring teammate Starling Marte during the eighth inning against the Brewers on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
The Pirates' Josh Harrison smiles after hitting an RBI double against the Brewers during the fourth inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Neil Walker (18) and Starling Marte celebrate their win over the Brewers on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
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Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Brewers on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
The Pirates' Josh Harrison watches the ball after he hit a two-run double against the Brewers during the second inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Gaby Sanchez high-fives teammate Starling Marte after they scored on an RBI double hit by teammate Josh Harrison as Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy stands on the field during the second inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
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Brewers shortstop Jean Segura makes a fielding error on a ground ball hit by the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen, allowing him to reach first safely during the first inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
The Pirates' Gaby Sanchez (left) and Starling Marte celebrate after scoring off Josh Harrison's two-run double against the Brewers during the second inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
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The Pirates' Travis Snider (left) fist-bumps teammate Josh Harrison after Harrison hit a two-run home run that scored Starling Marte during the eighth inning against the Brewers on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke delivers to the Brewers during the first inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.
The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (22) is congratulated after scoring on Neil Walker's RBI triple against the Brewers during the third inning Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE — Miller Park felt haunted Friday night. Its retractable roof was left open because of the comfortable temperature, which allowed fog to roll in off Lake Michigan in the middle innings.

The Brewers' home has been a house of horrors for the Pirates, who have lost 53 of their past 67 games in the ballpark. Some players even claim the team hotel in Milwaukee, The Pfister, is haunted.

The Pirates played Friday like they are tired of hearing ghost stories, routing the Brewers, 8-3.

Led by a career-best five RBIs from Josh Harrison, the Pirates won the opening game of a crucial series. The Pirates (66-62) trail the Brewers (71-57) by five games in the NL Central.

“It was a big show-up night for (Harrison),” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “All five of the RBIs came with two outs, those are game-changers.”

In this most unwelcoming of environments, against a pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, who has tormented the Pirates his entire career — he entered the game with a 12-4 mark and 2.57 ERA against them — the Pirates played like a completely different team than the one that had fallen out of wild-card position.

The Pirates did not commit an error. They technically received a quality start from Jeff Locke, who allowed two runs over six innings though his command was shaky. The bullpen did not implode, and an offense that had gone dormant at times recently finally erupted.

The Pirates jumped on Gallardo in the second inning. Russell Martin reached on an error, and Gaby Sanchez and Starling Marte walked. Jordy Mercer drove home Martin with a sacrifice fly. After Locke struck out, Harrison again demonstrated his opposite-field power, slashing a two-run double to right center that gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead.

Harrison added a run-scoring single in the fourth to stake the Pirates to a 5-2 lead, and in the eighth, he smashed his 11th home run of the season just over the left field wall, a two-run shot off Brandon Kintzler that gave the Pirates an 8-2 advantage. Harrison went 3 for 5 and raised his average to .308.

“It's just taking advantage of mistake pitches,” Harrison said. “He left me a couple out over the plate.”

But the most important hit came off the bat of Andrew McCutchen.

In the fifth inning, McCutchen uncoiled on a Gallardo fastball, sending it deep over the right field wall. The ball bounced off the concourse and glanced off an SUV on display there to give the Pirates a 6-2 lead. More importantly, the homer by McCutchen showed he has made a swift recovery from an avulsion fracture.

Gallardo allowed six runs — three earned — and eight hits in five innings.

Locke's outing didn't begin well. He walked Jonathan Lucroy in the first, then elevated a changeup to Ryan Braun, who slammed the pitch into the left field seats to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead. But the Brewers didn't score again until Rickie Weeks' RBI single off former Brewers closer John Axford in the eighth.

Locke allowed two hits but walked six and didn't record a strikeout. The walk total matched that of Locke's first eight starts combined this season.

“It was a lot like last year's first half,” Locke said of his start. “So many games we had four-plus walks, two or three hits and no runs, one run (allowed).”

Still, as poorly as the Pirates have played in Miller Park since 2007, they're 7-7 in Milwaukee over their past 14 games. And as badly as they stumbled over the past two weeks, the Pirates have responded to a seven-game skid with a two-game winning streak.

Maybe the fog is lifting.

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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