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Pirates storm back to beat Reds, complete sweep

| Sunday, April 14, 2013, 5:36 p.m.
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry watches his second home run Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry watches his second home run Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry rounds the bases past third base coach Nick Leyva after his first home run Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry rounds the bases past third base coach Nick Leyva after his first home run Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry celebrates his second home run with Pedro Alvarez on Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry celebrates his second home run with Pedro Alvarez on Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry acknowledges a curtain call from the crowd after his second home run Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry acknowledges a curtain call from the crowd after his second home run Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker tags out the Reds' Shin-soo Choo on a run-down Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker tags out the Reds' Shin-soo Choo on a run-down Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
The Reds' Chris Heisey steals second base next to the Pirates' Neil Walker during the second inning Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Reds' Chris Heisey steals second base next to the Pirates' Neil Walker during the second inning Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates pitcher Phil Irwin delivers to the plate during the third inning against the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Phil Irwin delivers to the plate during the third inning against the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates pitcher Phil Irwin delivers during the third inning against the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Phil Irwin delivers during the third inning against the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry celebrates with Starling Marte after Marte hit the go-ahead home run against the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry celebrates with Starling Marte after Marte hit the go-ahead home run against the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte pumps his fist as he rounds the bases after hitting the go-ahead home run against the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte pumps his fist as he rounds the bases after hitting the go-ahead home run against the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte celebrates his go-ahead home run with Jose Tabata against the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte celebrates his go-ahead home run with Jose Tabata against the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte hits the go-ahead home run with Jose Tabata on Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte hits the go-ahead home run with Jose Tabata on Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen flashes the 'Z' sign to the dugout after driving in a run Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen flashes the 'Z' sign to the dugout after driving in a run Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen drives in a run with a double Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen drives in a run with a double Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, catcher Michael McKenry and reliever Jared Hughes celebrate Starling Marte's go-ahead home run in the dugout Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, catcher Michael McKenry and reliever Jared Hughes celebrate Starling Marte's go-ahead home run in the dugout Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte celebrates his go-ahead home run with Andrew McCutchen on Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte celebrates his go-ahead home run with Andrew McCutchen on Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Pirates outfielders Starling Marte and Jose Tabata high-five infielders Neil Walker and John McDonald after defeating the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates outfielders Starling Marte and Jose Tabata high-five infielders Neil Walker and John McDonald after defeating the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Fans wave brooms after the final out as the Pirates sweep the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Fans wave brooms after the final out as the Pirates sweep the Reds on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry signs an autograph on Kid's Day on Sunday, April 14, 2013, before the game against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry signs an autograph on Kid's Day on Sunday, April 14, 2013, before the game against the Reds at PNC Park.
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen and first baseman Garrett Jones prepare to bat Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen and first baseman Garrett Jones prepare to bat Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Pirates reliever Jeanmar Gomez delivers Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates reliever Jeanmar Gomez delivers Sunday, April 14, 2013, against the Reds at PNC Park.

Being a bench player is difficult enough, but it's even worse being a backup catcher.

The catcher is involved in every play, every pitch. He has to discern every pitcher, dissect every batter, direct every defensive alignment. Try doing all that when you only start once a week — oh, and by the way, be ready to hit, too.

Michael McKenry can handle all that. Now, if only he could get his curtain-call routine down pat.

“I hope we all get a ton of them this year,” McKenry said. “That'll mean good things are happening.”

On Sunday, in just his second start of the season, McKenry blasted a pair of home runs to spark the Pirates to a 10-7 comeback win against the Cincinnati Reds. The improbable victory — the Pirates shrugged off a five-run deficit and scored all of their runs in the seventh and eighth innings — completed a three-game sweep at PNC Park.

McKenry's solo shot in the seventh was the Pirates' first run. In the eighth, he cracked a two-run homer to ignite a six-run outburst. It was his first two-homer game in the big leagues.

“I did it (in the minors) a week or two before I got traded to Pittsburgh in ... when was that, 2010? 2011?” McKenry said.

It was 2011, but you can't blame McKenry for feeling like he's been with the Pirates much longer.

“Hey, I like it here,” he said.

The city likes him, too. After McKenry's two-run shot, the crowd of 19,239 demanded a curtain call. McKenry tried to hold back, but Neil Walker nudged him forward to bask in the applause.

“He deserved it,” Walker said. “He's the beloved ‘Fort' McKenry. He came up big for us, so he deserved that curtain call.”

It was the second time McKenry had to be goaded to go to the top step of the dugout. On July 8, 2011, less than a month after he joined the Pirates, McKenry hit his first homer — a game-winning, three-run shot off Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.

“Walk's the one who pushed me out then, and it was the same thing today — the Pittsburgh guy,” McKenry said. “It shows what kind of teammates I have and what kind of people there are here in Pittsburgh. It's really special.”

The Reds built an early 5-0 lead against right-hander Phil Irwin, who had a rocky major league debut. Right-hander Mat Latos blanked the Pirates until the seventh, when they scored four runs.

The Reds got a run back in the eighth off reliever Jared Hughes (1-0). But in the bottom of the inning, against right-handed reliever Jonathan Broxton (0-1), Pedro Alvarez walked and McKenry struck again to tie it at 6.

With one out, Jose Tabata walked. Starling Marte hit a towering shot that hugged the left-field line and barely stayed fair. That gave the Pirates their first lead, 8-6.

“He's got that kind of power,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We thought it was fair. By how much was it fair? Not by much, you say? Good. It was fair enough.”

After hitting just three home runs over the previous 102 innings, the Pirates knocked out three in a span of four outs.

“We all knew we'd hit some more,” Hurdle said. “They say things are contagious in this game, right? Home runs were contagious for us today.”

It was only the second time in his nine-year career that Broxton allowed two home runs in a game.

Pitcher Jonathan Sanchez, pinch hitting for Hughes, walked on five pitches. Andrew McCutchen singled. Gaby Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly.

“I've never seen Broxton that wild,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Every homer was preceded by a walk. That was a rough day for all of us. Roughest one in a long time.”

The Reds finally yanked Broxton and called on flamethrower Aroldis Chapman.

Big deal. Walker stroked an RBI single to center. The six runs completed the rally and are tied for the most Broxton has allowed in a game.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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