Why me? Question has new meaning for Taillon

Pirates right-hander finds strength, voice after cancer scare

Why me? Question has new meaning for Taillon

PITTSBURGH -- It would be easy for Jameson Taillon to make excuses, to draw a straight line from the cancer diagnosis that shook his team and family to the comparatively minor struggles he's had on the mound this season.

But Taillon is living proof that it's not always easy. The Pirates took him second overall in the 2010 Draft between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, two players who climbed directly to stardom. Taillon's path has not been so linear.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marte, Luplow homer to play spoiler vs. Cards

Marte, Luplow homer to play spoiler vs. Cards

PITTSBURGH -- Hoping to pad the win column before returning to St. Louis for a homestand that will either end or extend their season, the Cardinals instead hit a roadblock that cost them valuable ground in both the National League Central and Wild Card races.

The Pirates, who entered the series having won two of their previous 14 games, stole the weekend set from St. Louis by powering their way to a 4-1 victory on Sunday at PNC Park. Home runs by Starling Marte and Jordan Luplow sealed the team's second consecutive victory.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kang (restricted list) to play DR winter ball

Kang (restricted list) to play DR winter ball

PITTSBURGH -- Jung Ho Kang has been cleared to play winter ball and has begun preseason workouts in the Dominican Republic.

Kang will remain on the Pirates' restricted list, where he has spent the season following an offseason arrest for driving under the influence. General manager Neal Huntington said Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association granted the Pirates an exemption that allows Kang to play in the Dominican Winter League while remaining on the restricted list, where he is unpaid and not occupying a spot on Pittsburgh's 40-man roster.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sharp Williams faces O's in Interleague set

Sharp Williams faces O's in Interleague set

When the Pirates and Orioles met earlier this season, both had designs on contending, or -- at the very least -- playing meaningful games in late September. But when they meet again at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday at PNC Park, both clubs will be mathematically eliminated from the postseason, playing out their 2017 slates and looking toward next year.

The Orioles came back to win two games against the Bucs in Baltimore from June 6-7, ousting former Pittsburgh closer Tony Watson from his role and moving to 31-26 on the year. The Pirates fell to 26-33 at that point, but they still believed they could make a second-half push.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Tucker injury opens door at short for Kramer

Pirates' Fall League contingent, top 2017 prep Draft picks getting work in at instructs

Tucker injury opens door at short for Kramer

While much of Florida was battered by Hurricane Irma, the Pirates were relieved that Pirate City in Bradenton was relatively unharmed by the storm. That is allowing them to jump into their instructional league program without too much disruption.

Pirates Minor Leaguers had their first full workout last Wednesday, thanks to the fact Pirate City had just some cosmetic damage and the staff worked quickly to get things ready. Games were pushed back only slightly because of the hurricane, with play opening up on Monday as they host the Rays.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chronic knee pain ends Mercer's bid for cycle

Chronic knee pain ends Mercer's bid for cycle

PITTSBURGH -- Jordy Mercer got the hardest part out of the way first -- so hard, in fact, that it may have kept him from a shot at history.

A home run shy of hitting for the cycle, Mercer exited the Pirates' 11-6 romp over the Cardinals on Saturday night at PNC Park after five innings due to a sore left knee. Pittsburgh's shortstop had to settle, if you will, for a season-high-tying three hits and a career-high-tying four RBIs.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Santana, Neverauskas auditioning for 2018

Santana, Neverauskas auditioning for 2018

PITTSBURGH -- Friday night provided a potential preview of the Pirates' 2018 bullpen. Between Ivan Nova's five innings and Felipe Rivero's blown save in the ninth, the Bucs sent out rookies Edgar Santana and Dovydas Neverauskas, followed by veteran George Kontos.

Each right-hander worked a scoreless frame, gaining experience in the roles they may play next year. Kontos, Neverauskas and Santana should be a part of next season's relief corps alongside Daniel Hudson, A.J. Schugel and the closer, Rivero.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates pounce in 8-run 1st, cruise past Cards

Pirates pounce in 8-run 1st, cruise past Cards

PITTSBURGH -- An opportunity to tighten things atop the National League Central all but dissolved for the Cardinals before the first inning even came to an end on Saturday. The Pirates pounced on starter Lance Lynn for eight instant runs that pushed them toward an eventual 11-6 win and snapped the momentum St. Louis had been building amid a four-game winning streak.

The Cardinals took the field knowing that the Brewers had already pulled even with them in the standings by stealing an afternoon victory over the division-leading Cubs. But the Cards were unable to grab the ground available to gain. Instead, they slipped a half-game back of the Brewers and five games behind the Cubs in the National League Central. They remained 1 1/2 games behind the Rockies -- who lost -- for the second NL Wild Card spot.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates let lead slip, drop opener to Cards

Pirates let lead slip, drop opener to Cards

PITTSBURGH -- The list of teams the Cardinals are trying to chase down over the season's final days dropped from three to two on Friday, as St. Louis parlayed a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Pirates into a move up in a pair of National League races.

"It was amazing, all the way around," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "A lot of guys contributing. Just one of those [wins] that you put a mark next to that showed a lot of grit."

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marte 'very grateful' for Bucs fans' reception

Following suspension, left fielder working diligently to return to All-Star form

Marte 'very grateful' for Bucs fans' reception

PITTSBURGH -- Starling Marte wants to finish this season strong, to show that he is still working to prove himself to the Pirates and their fans, following his 80-game suspension earlier this year. But as far as the Bucs are concerned, Marte's offensive numbers don't mean much at this point.

Marte is hitting .255 with a .666 OPS since he was suspended following a positive test for the performance-enhancing substance Nandrolone. Manager Clint Hurdle believes the decline is primarily a product of the three months Marte sat out serving his suspension.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Bucs believe they're a piece or two away

Beat reporter Adam Berry answers questions from Pirates fans

Inbox: Bucs believe they're a piece or two away

What exactly is this team? Trending downward and headed toward a rebuild? Or a piece or two (better starting pitching, bullpen) away from being a division/first Wild Card contender?
-- Jonathan, New Florence, Pa.

The Pirates seem to believe it's the latter, because there's no hint of a traditional, tear-down "rebuild." They've tried to compete while introducing a group of young players over the past two years, and most of their current core -- aside from Andrew McCutchen -- is under control through at least 2019.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brault, Glasnow trending in different directions

Lefty tosses five efficient innings, while hard-throwing righty struggles with command

Brault, Glasnow trending in different directions

PITTSBURGH -- Steven Brault knew he had five innings on Wednesday night. The Pirates had a plan, and Brault's part did not include the sixth inning -- no matter how effective he was, no matter how efficiently he worked.

Brault made a pretty convincing case to stay, holding the Brewers to two runs -- on a pair of solo homers -- as he recorded 15 outs on 65 pitches and left the game with a one-run lead. In three starts over the past 15 days, Brault has a 2.81 ERA and, most importantly, the Pirates have won all three games, including Wednesday's 6-4 victory over Milwaukee.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Frazier's walk-off HR ends Bucs' 7-game skid

Frazier's walk-off HR ends Bucs' 7-game skid

PITTSBURGH -- Brewers closer Corey Knebel picked a bad night to have a bad night.

With the Rockies' and Cubs' losses already on the out-of-town scoreboard, Knebel's eighth-inning error snapped his streak of 21 straight saves, and his leadoff walk in the ninth extended the inning for Adam Frazier's two-out, two-run, walk-off home run in a 6-4 Pirates win over the Brewers at PNC Park on Wednesday night.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Schugel quietly proving value in bullpen

Schugel quietly proving value in bullpen

PITTSBURGH -- Quietly, the Bucs may have found another answer for their 2018 bullpen in A.J. Schugel. The 28-year-old right-hander may fit as a jam-defusing fireman and bridge from the starting pitcher to the late-inning relievers, a role he's filled in the second half of the season.

"That's proven to be one of his strengths," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He has been the first and foremost guy we've gone to and gotten up when we've had a lead to be the guy who can come in and face right-handed and left-handed hitters. … He's learned how to pitch. He stays within his skillset."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kang ready to put past to rest, get back to ball

Kang ready to put past to rest, get back to ball

PITTSBURGH -- After a year away from professional baseball, Jung Ho Kang is ready to play again. In an interview with the Yonhap News Agency published Tuesday, Kang apologized for the drunken-driving arrest that has kept him out of the United States this season and looked forward to his time in the Dominican Winter League.

Kang has spent the entire season on the restricted list, unable to acquire a U.S. work visa or play for the Pirates. He has not often spoken publicly since his December arrest for driving under the influence, his third such arrest since 2009, which led to an eight-month jail sentence that was suspended for two years.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs fall to Crew despite Williams' strong start

Bucs fall to Crew despite Williams' strong start

PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers, thanks to their strong arms on the mound and in the outfield, won another series. Now they will eye a sweep.

Chase Anderson continued his string of solid starts by pitching six scoreless innings, and Domingo Santana backed him with a solo homer in a 1-0 win over the Pirates on Tuesday at PNC Park. The shutout was also aided by the burgeoning reputation of center fielder Brett Phillips, who kept the potential tying run from even thinking of trying to score from third in the sixth on a flyout to center. Phillips unleashed a 104.7-mph throw to the plate -- the hardest-thrown ball this season, according to Statcast™ -- and he now owns the top three hardest outfield throws for 2017.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cervelli's season comes to an end

Cervelli's season comes to an end

PITTSBURGH -- Catcher Francisco Cervelli has played only three innings since Aug. 13 due to injuries, and said on Friday that he "never had it in my mind to quit" and still wants to play in 2017, but when he sat down in manager Clint Hurdle's office on Monday afternoon, he realized he had simply run out of time.

Sidelined since Aug. 26 by a sore left quadriceps, Cervelli has been taking batting practice and jogging but not blocking balls behind the plate or running the bases. So with 12 games remaining, the Pirates decided to shut him down for the rest of the season.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Quiet bats, baserunning gaffes hurt Pirates

Quiet bats, baserunning gaffes hurt Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- With the Cubs and Rockies idle, Monday offered the Brewers an opportunity to gain ground in each of their two paths to the postseason. Mission accomplished.

Ryan Braun homered and five pitchers combined for the Brewers' 11th shutout victory, a 3-0 triumph over the slumping Pirates at PNC Park. With 12 games left on their schedule, the Brewers pulled within 3 1/2 games of the Cubs in the National League Central and two games of the Rockies in the race for the second NL Wild Card.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jaso homers, but Bucs drop finale to Reds

Jaso homers, but Bucs drop finale to Reds

CINCINNATI -- The Reds have spent the last 96 days in last place in the National League Central, but they spent the past three days climbing closer to the fourth-place Pirates. The Reds rode a five-run sixth to a 5-2 win on Sunday, completing a three-game sweep at Great American Ball Park and pulling within two games of the Bucs.

"You want to strive for a lot more [than fourth place], but we have a shot at the next best thing than where we are," said Reds manager Bryan Price, whose club has been in last place since June 13.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati and covered the Reds on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs outright Hutchison, lean on young arms

Bucs outright Hutchison, lean on young arms

CINCINNATI -- Coming into the year, Drew Hutchison had a shot to crack the Pirates' Opening Day rotation. When they determined that he wouldn't end the season in Pittsburgh, the Pirates effectively cut ties with Hutchison.

Now off Pittsburgh's 40-man roster, Hutchison -- the Pirates' lone return for Francisco Liriano and two prospects in a trade last July -- will likely declare himself a free agent after the World Series, general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Positive mindset' leads to bounceback for Nova

Starter tosses 6 1/3 strong innings vs. Cincinnati, then exits due to right calf tightness

'Positive mindset' leads to bounceback for Nova

CINCINNATI -- Ivan Nova was in first-half form Saturday afternoon at Great American Ball Park and hopes to finish the second half strong despite leaving the Pirates' 2-1 loss to the Reds early due to right calf tightness.

After struggling through his past 10 starts and posting a 6.62 ERA since the All-Star break, Nova was at his best against the Reds. He retired Cincinnati's first 11 hitters in order and faced the minimum 18 through six innings.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Increased playing time a boon to backstop Diaz

Pirates catcher studying with bench coach between games to improve rapport with pitchers

Increased playing time a boon to backstop Diaz

CINCINNATI -- The Pirates are getting a long look at catcher Elias Diaz this month, starting the rookie in 12 of their final 14 games. While the Bucs believe more consistent playing time will benefit Diaz as they look toward next season, some of his most important work takes place between games.

Most afternoons, Diaz reviews sequences from the previous day's game with bench coach Tom Prince, a former catcher, often alongside veterans Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Manager Clint Hurdle recently called it a "simulator," a chance for Diaz to break down games in retrospect or when he's not playing.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Efforts from Cutch, Nova not enough in loss

Efforts from Cutch, Nova not enough in loss

CINCINNATI -- Pirates starter Ivan Nova was perfect for three innings on Saturday. He faced the minimum 18 Reds batters through six innings. But Jesse Winker got to Nova in the seventh inning, supporting Sal Romano's gem with a solo shot to right field in the Reds' 2-1 win over the Bucs at Great American Ball Park.

Nearing the end of a disappointing second half, Nova rediscovered his first-half form Saturday afternoon, needing only 63 pitches to cruise through six innings. Winker led off the seventh with a Statcast-projected 374-foot shot into the right-field seats, his second homer in five games since coming off the disabled list.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati and covered the Reds on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Homers get to Kuhl as Bucs drop Reds opener

Homers get to Kuhl as Bucs drop Reds opener

CINCINNATI -- The Pirates have entered a nose-dive in September, and encountering the Reds -- who have owned Pittsburgh in 2017 -- won't help. Cincinnati supported pitcher Homer Bailey with four home runs en route to a 4-2 victory on Friday at Great American Ball Park. The Reds have won 11 of 17 games in the season series vs. Pittsburgh.

Bailey gave the Reds 5 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run and five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts to notch his first victory since Aug. 11.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates 'very proud' of Altoona's title, sweep

Hurdle on Double-A squad: 'Everybody showed up. Everybody threw something in'

Pirates 'very proud' of Altoona's title, sweep

CINCINNATI -- As he ate dinner Thursday night, Pirates outfielder Jordan Luplow was locked in on his phone. After starting this season with Double-A Altoona, he wanted to catch the end of the club's championship run.

The Altoona Curve beat the Trenton Thunder, 4-2, on Thursday to sweep the Eastern League championship series and complete a perfect postseason. Altoona became the third Eastern League team to sweep all six of its playoff games since 1983.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Will Bucs try Glasnow in bullpen?

Beat reporter Adam Berry fields Pirates fans' questions

Inbox: Will Bucs try Glasnow in bullpen?

The Pirates were off Thursday, resting before the first of their final 15 games this season. As they continue to look toward 2018, we will do the same in the latest Pirates Inbox.

Do you think Tyler Glasnow in the bullpen could work? Like a one-inning guy, maybe a setup guy to Felipe Rivero if it works.
-- Guy B., Winston-Salem, N.C.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cutch joins exclusive club with 200th Bucs HR

Pirates outfielder hit first pitch he saw Wednesday for dinger

Cutch joins exclusive club with 200th Bucs HR

MILWAUKEE -- Andrew McCutchen joined an exclusive group of Pirates legends on Wednesday night at Miller Park.

In the first inning of the Pirates' 8-2 loss, McCutchen crushed the first pitch he saw from Brewers starter Chase Anderson deep to left-center field for his 25th home run of the season. It was also the 200th homer of McCutchen's career, making him the fourth player to reach that milestone in a Pirates uniform.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Glasnow struggles with walks in loss to Crew

Glasnow struggles with walks in loss to Crew

MILWAUKEE -- Life without Jimmy Nelson began for the Brewers on Wednesday, when Chase Anderson pitched on short rest in place of Milwaukee's injured ace and led the way to an 8-2 win over the Pirates at Miller Park.

Eric Thames hit a go-ahead two-run home run in a four-run third inning, rookie center fielder Brett Phillips drove in three runs and saved another with a sensational throw home, and the Brewers kept pace with the Cubs in the National League Central. Milwaukee remained 2 1/2 games behind Chicago while moving into second place, one-half game ahead of the Cardinals.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.