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Pirates rally past Royals

June 10, 2012

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The Pittsburgh Pirates made the most of a few lucky bounces and well-placed grounders on Saturday night.

That’s all they need to win these days.

Neil Walker drove in the go-ahead run with a groundout during a wacky fourth inning, and Pittsburgh rallied for a 5-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

The Pirates have won three straight and are 11-3 since May 25, the best record in the major leagues in that span. Pittsburgh, which hasn’t had a winning season since 1992, also moved four games over .500 at 31-27.

Clint Barmes drove in Pedro Alvarez with an infield hit as the Pirates scored five times in the fourth on three singles, only one of which made it to the outfield. Barmes eventually came around to score on Walker’s bouncer, lifting Pittsburgh to a 4-3 lead.

“It wasn’t loud but balls were finding grass and spots in the infield,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s a tough inning if you’re playing defense because no balls are being barreled up.”

It was indeed a frustrating inning for Kansas City manager Ned Yost.

“They didn’t hit any balls hard and they scored five runs,” he said, shaking his head.

Jared Hughes (2-0) pitched 21⁄3 scoreless innings to get the win and Joel Hanrahan got three outs for his 17th save in 19 opportunities.

Four Pirates relievers combined to work five scoreless innings, and the Royals went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position for the game.

“The work our guys in the bullpen did was tremendous,” Hurdle said. “Hanrahan did the job again. Hughes was tremendous. It was good all over.”

Yuniesky Betancourt hit a two-run homer and Eric Hosmer had two doubles for Kansas City, which has dropped three straight. Vin Mazzaro (2-1) gave up four runs, three earned, and three hits in three-plus innings.

“It was unanimous in the dugout that once we got to the third time through the order to (Mazzaro) that we were going to get him,” Walker said. “He was spraying his fastball, especially to left-handers. We didn’t exactly knock the ball around but I guess that’s how we got to him.”

Notes: Kansas City placed RHP Felipe Paulino (right groin strain) on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Thursday, and recalled RHP Nate Adcock from Triple-A Omaha. RHP Luis Mendoza is expected to take Paulino’s spot in the rotation and start Tuesday against Milwaukee. … As part of a Negro Leagues tribute, the Royals wore replica Kansas City Monarchs uniforms and the Pirates wore Homestead Grays throwbacks.

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