Mercer undergoing tests, but feels a lot better

Pirates shortstop was hit on the chest by a pitch while squaring to bunt

Mercer undergoing tests, but feels a lot better

PITTSBURGH -- Instead of being at the Pirates' shortstop position Monday night, Jordy Mercer was at an area hospital, undergoing the last of a series of tests to confirm he suffered nothing worse than a bruise when nailed on the upper chest by a fastball.

Jung Ho Kang was in the starting lineup at short against the Cubs, the Korean infielder's first start in front of the home crowd.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Melancon answers call as Pirates' bullpen dominates in win

Three relievers, starter Cole face minimum over final 7 1/3 innings

Melancon answers call as Pirates' bullpen dominates in win

PITTSBURGH -- For the first time in a dozen games -- and, really, for the first time in 6 1/2 months -- Mark Melancon got to do his thing on Sunday. He began the ninth inning of a game waiting to be saved.

Three batters later, the job was done and the Pirates had a sweep-ending 5-2 win over Milwaukee at PNC Park that evened their record at 6-6. Of the six victories, however, this was the first in which the Bucs entered the ninth with a lead of fewer than four runs -- a prerequisite for a save.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole's home dominance, Alvarez's homer carry Bucs to sweep

Cole's home dominance, Alvarez's homer carry Bucs to sweep

PITTSBURGH -- Gerrit Cole permitted two runs in six innings, and Pedro Alvarez hit a go-ahead home run as the Pirates completed a series sweep of Milwaukee on Sunday with a 5-2 win that consigned the Brewers to the worst season start in franchise history.

The Brewers have lost 10 of their first 12 games. Matt Garza, who has one of Milwaukee's two wins, pitched in and out of trouble Sunday, but fell permanently behind when Alvarez snapped a 2-2 tie with a solo homer in the third. Chris Stewart added a two-run single in the sixth.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle: Working inside part of how Bucs pitch

Hurdle: Working inside part of how Bucs pitch

PITTSBURGH -- Milwaukee right-hander Tyler Thornburg's first-pitch 94 mph fastball nailed Andrew McCutchen on the left shoulder in the bottom of the seventh Saturday night. Two outs, nobody on base -- safe conditions to have one get away.

In the top of the ninth, Arquimedes Caminero's first-pitch 98 mph fastball rattled leadoff batter Ryan Braun's knee pads. The Bucs had a 6-1 lead -- also safe conditions to misfire.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fan OK after being struck by foul into net

PITTSBURGH -- A fan injured on a foul ball into the protective net behind home plate during the second inning of Monday night's Cubs-Pirates game was alert and gave a "thumbs up" to nearby fans as she was taken for medical care.

Play was halted for about 20 minutes after Chicago's Starlin Castro fouled back a pitch from A.J. Burnett into the netting during the second inning. The net flexed with the impact of the ball, which then struck the fan in the head area as she stood with her back to the field. She fell and immediately was tended to by ballpark and medical crews.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marte powers Pirates to another runaway over Crew

Marte powers Pirates to another runaway over Crew

PITTSBURGH -- Starling Marte drove in a career-high five runs and left-hander Jeff Locke retired 23 of the last 25 men he faced Saturday night, leading the Pirates to a 6-2 win over the Brewers.

Ryan Braun, batting leadoff for the first time in his big-league career, opened the game wirh a single and eventually scored on Jonathan Lucroy's sacrifice fly, but the 1-0 lead given Kyle Lohse did not survive the bottom of the first. Gregory Polanco doubled for the tying run and Marte singled for two go-ahead runs.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Locke proves second time now the charm

Past the first inning, starter dominates Brewers in rematch

Locke proves second time now the charm

PITTSBURGH -- Jeff Locke confronted not only the Milwaukee Brewers but also his personal history when making repeat starts against a team, and defeated both Saturday night.

Locke had decisioned the Brewers eight days earlier in Miller Park, but this time he doubled-down in PNC Park. He had previously drawn the same opponent in consecutive starts three times in his career, and they'd roughed him up for 15 earned runs in 14 innings.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mercer shakes off getting hit by Garza pitch in chest

X-rays negative on Bucs shortstop's bruised ribcage

Mercer shakes off getting hit by Garza pitch in chest

PITTSBURGH -- Jordy Mercer strolled into the Pirates' clubhouse late Sunday afternoon, glanced up at one of the eight flat-screen TVs lowered from the ceiling and winced.

"Ooh ... first time I've actually seen it," he said, watching himself getting drilled by a Matt Garza fastball in the upper chest during the Pirates' 5-2 win over the Brewers.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marte turns around slow start in a hurry

Left fielder responds to Hurdle's encouragement with power

Marte turns around slow start in a hurry

PITTSBURGH -- For a second straight night, the Buccos offense caught up with the team's other two, stellar aspects. If this has been a glimpse of an extended look, the rest of the National League Central may soon be trying to catch up to the Pirates.

The Pirates have excelled on the mound and with the gloves all season, and now the bats have fallen in line, with Starling Marte sounding reveille.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates ballgirl makes incredible catch on line drive

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Pirates ballgirl makes incredible catch on line drive

Baseball fans have had the pleasure of watching some impressive defense early in the 2015 season. George Springer robbed what would have been a walk-off grand slam, Ben Revere did a Superman impression and Mookie Betts pulled back a Bryce Harper homer.

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Cancelled game fails to detour Morton's injury rehab

Right-hander performs well in simulated matchup

Cancelled game fails to detour Morton's injury rehab

PITTSBURGH -- Charlie Morton's rehab route hit a slight detour Saturday, but this change in plans was a minor inconvenience for a veteran whose intention to open the season in the Bucs' rotation was foiled when he had to stay in Florida to continue recovery from fall labrum surgery.

The next leg on Morton's rehab route was supposed to be a Saturday outing against Yankees farmhands in an extended spring game. When "the other club cancelled," according to manager Clint Hurdle, Morton instead threw 55 pitches in a simulated game against Pirates Minor Leaguers.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates warm up in rematch with Brewers' Nelson

Pirates warm up in rematch with Brewers' Nelson

PITTSBURGH -- Sean Rodriguez and Josh Harrison delivered RBI singles in the fifth inning Friday night to snap a 1-1 tie and Starling Marte added a two-run homer in the eighth as the Pirates downed the Brewers, 6-3.

Jimmy Nelson, who blanked Pittsburgh for seven innings on Saturday, again pitched well but received little support from a Milwaukee offense that continued to be challenged with men in scoring position, going 1-for-7 in those situations.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Worley proves clutch in tight situation

Getting out of fifth-inning jam leads to first win of season

Worley proves clutch in tight situation

PITTSBURGH -- In the bottom of Friday's fourth inning, the Pirates did something they had not done since Monday's seventh inning: Score. The pressure on a pitcher immediately after his team scores is always pronounced, because few situations in baseball are as leveraged as the shutdown inning.

But the burden on Vance Worley after the Bucs had tied the Brewers at 1 in PNC Park was exponentially heavier due to the circumstances. How the right-hander responded to that challenge was the boldfaced part of the 6-3 victory.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen's patience pays off against Brewers

Cleanup hitter's nine-pitch at-bat shifted momentum for Bucs

McCutchen's patience pays off against Brewers

PITTSBURGH -- For the first time since 2011, Andrew McCutchen did not come to bat in the first inning of a Pirates game. When he did get into the batter's box, he was sure to make the most of it.

McCutchen batted cleanup for the Bucs for the second time in four years. When he last did so in 2013, he still got his first-inning ups amidst a rally.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs activate Stewart from DL, option Sanchez to Triple-A

Bucs activate Stewart from DL, option Sanchez to Triple-A

PITTSBURGH -- This was not the first time Tony Sanchez had been optioned to the Minor Leagues. Friday's news, however, was the toughest for the Pirates to deliver and for Sanchez to accept.

"It really stinks when you do everything they ask you to, and you still get sent out. But it's the nature of the beast," said Sanchez, who understood the necessity behind his fifth trip back to the Minors since his big league debut in June 2013.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mercer quickly put big E6 in rearview mirror

Bucs shortstop hasn't made throwing error to first since mistake during 2013 playoff race

Mercer quickly put big E6 in rearview mirror

PITTSBURGH -- At the dawn of his career, Jordy Mercer had a "dusk" moment. It was only his 69th career start at shortstop when the Pirates took the PNC Park field against the Reds on Sept. 20, 2013, just a mere game behind the Cardinals in the National League Central.

The Bucs led, 5-2, with two outs in the ninth. Todd Frazier sent a slow roller toward short, Mercer charged and fielded the ball -- and heaved it past first baseman Justin Morneau.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Liriano caps strong effort by starters vs. Tigers

Despite losing series, Pirates' starting pitchers allow just three runs

Liriano caps strong effort by starters vs. Tigers

PITTSBURGH -- The Tigers rolled into PNC Park this week as an offensive juggernaut, averaging nearly eight runs per game the first week of the season.

Though the Pirates' lineup scuffled as the Bucs lost the three-game series, Pittsburgh's pitching staff emerged as an obvious bright spot for the club.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates join together with MLB to celebrate Jackie

Cutch, Harrison wear special cleats; Bucs honor contest-winning students

Pirates join together with MLB to celebrate Jackie

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle shared three Jackie Robinson quotes in his daily email Wednesday morning. One of them in particular, he said, stands out every time he reads it.

"It's the one that, for me, always resonates with Jackie Robinson," Hurdle said before Wednesday night's game against the Tigers at PNC Park. "'A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.'"

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Liriano solid, but Bucs can't solve Simon

Liriano solid, but Bucs can't solve Simon

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Alfredo Simon threw eight shutout innings and center fielder Rajai Davis swatted the go-ahead hit for the second consecutive night as the Tigers beat the Pirates, 1-0, on Wednesday at PNC Park.

A night after right-hander Shane Greene efficiently shut down the Pirates for eight innings, Simon did the same, allowing two hits and striking out two as he breezed through the Bucs' lineup on 108 pitches.

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates' offense slumping out of the gate

Pirates' offense slumping out of the gate

PITTSBURGH -- Last year, the Pirates boasted one of the most patient and productive lineups in baseball. They led the National League with 520 walks and ranked fourth with 682 runs.

That hasn't been the case for the Bucs so far this season, particularly after getting shut out by the Tigers the last two nights at PNC Park.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Confusion ensues after ball hits umpire Layne in mask

Confusion ensues after ball hits umpire Layne in mask

PITTSBURGH -- The Tigers' 1-0 win over the Pirates at PNC Park on Wednesday night was delayed for more than 10 minutes in the top of the ninth inning after home-plate umpire Jerry Layne was hit in the mask by a 3-2 pitch from Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon.

But the delay wasn't caused by Layne's injury -- though he did leave the game -- so much as the ensuing confusion about whether Miguel Cabrera had drawn a walk.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Morton, Stewart progressing on rehab assignments

Righty to throw in extended spring Saturday; catcher nearing return to Bucs

Morton, Stewart progressing on rehab assignments

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Charlie Morton and catcher Chris Stewart are making progress, with Stewart potentially nearing a return to the Pirates' active roster.

Stewart, recovering from a right hamstring strain, has played five games as part of his Minor League rehab assignment. The Bucs' backup catcher spent two games with Double-A Altoona and three with Triple-A Indianapolis, and the Pirates plan to speak with Stewart on Thursday to see how he's feeling.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB head of youth sports Reagins discusses game's future

MLB head of youth sports Reagins discusses game's future

LOS ANGELES -- Tony Reagins has spent decades in the game of baseball, and he's worked in everything from marketing to baseball operations. Reagins, formerly the general manager of the Angels, has taken on a new assignment with Major League Baseball as the senior vice president of youth programs, and he took some time Tuesday to discuss his plans for the future.

Reagins, under new Commissioner Rob Manfred, will be in charge of consolidating the league's relationships with youth, high school and college baseball organizations around the country. Reagins attended the Civil Rights Game instructional clinic Tuesday at Rancho Cienega Recreation Center, and he spoke a bit about Jackie Robinson, the Urban Youth Academies and the future of the game.

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Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Burnett shows fans what they missed after year away

Right-hander strikes out eight over 6 2/3 innings in loss to Detroit

Burnett shows fans what they missed after year away

PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Burnett spent a year away from the Pirates, pitching last season for the Phillies, but he looked a lot like his old self Tuesday night in his return to PNC Park.

Burnett has been welcomed back with open arms at almost every turn this week. The crowd offered one of its loudest cheers for Burnett during Monday's pregame player introductions. They stood and cheered when he walked off the mound Tuesday night.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miggy's slap of baseball all in good fun, says Cervelli

Miggy's slap of baseball all in good fun, says Cervelli

PITTSBURGH -- Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera drew the ire of nearly 32,000 fans at PNC Park on Tuesday night. It's not unusual for fans to dread seeing the two-time American League MVP face their team, but this had nothing to do with Cabrera's excellence at the plate.

During the fourth inning of Tuesday night's 2-0 Tigers' win, Pirates starter A.J. Burnett got Cabrera to swing and miss on a curveball in the dirt. Catcher Francisco Cervelli picked up the ball and tagged Cabrera in the chest to complete the strikeout.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Burnett's strong outing not enough vs. Tigers

Burnett's strong outing not enough vs. Tigers

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Shane Greene fired eight innings of three-hit ball and Rajai Davis broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning as the Tigers beat the Pirates, 2-0, at PNC Park on Tuesday night.

Pirates starter A.J. Burnett received a warm welcome from the crowd of 31,755 in his return to Pittsburgh. The 38-year-old right-hander sailed through six innings before running into trouble in the seventh, issuing two one-out walks that quickly came back to haunt him.

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.