Burnett expects to return to Pirates soon

Right-hander feels good after latest simulated game at Busch Stadium

Burnett expects to return to Pirates soon

ST. LOUIS -- A.J. Burnett walked off the mound after a simulated game in which his pitches matched the Friday afternoon temperature at Busch Stadium -- and it was boiling, 95 degrees -- and uttered the words that will get Pirates fans only more psyched for this stretch drive:

"I expect to be throwing soon for the Pirates, because I feel great."

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle undeterred by Bucs' Central woes

Manager: 'Our focus needs to be on playing better' entering huge series in St. Louis

Hurdle undeterred by Bucs' Central woes

MILWAUKEE -- And now the Bucs get to go from the horseshoe to the whole darned horse.

That was Andrew McCutchen's take of Miller Park, where the Pirates felt the broom whiskers of another sweep with Thursday night's 5-3 loss to the Brewers.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Liriano's streak halted in loss to Brewers

Liriano's streak halted in loss to Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- All good things must come to an end. Especially for the Pirates at Miller Park. Thus the Bucs' 11-game winning streak in Francisco Liriano starts came to a crashing halt Thursday night, when Hernan Perez drove in two runs and Taylor Jungmann cast his usual spell over Pittsburgh as the Brewers held on for a 5-3 win.

On the eve of a crucial series in St. Louis, the loss dropped the Pirates 6 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Cardinals, who were idle. The Bucs have suffered their only two sweeps since the All-Star break in Milwaukee, and otherwise have gone 26-12 in the season's second half. Since 2007, the Brewers are 61-17 at home against the Pirates.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cutch 'healthy scratch' with tight left Achilles

Hurdle expects Pirates center fielder back vs. Cards

Cutch 'healthy scratch' with tight left Achilles

MILWAUKEE -- Annoyed for a few days by tightness in his left Achilles, Andrew McCutchen rested on the Pirates' bench -- and on his laurels -- Thursday in a 5-3 loss to the Brewers. The National League's August Player of the Month was out of the starting lineup, but called it a "healthy scratch."

"My Achilles has been tight, and it's been nagging me. I wouldn't call it an injury, just something I've dealt with," McCutchen said.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Simple plan, hard to execute: Score more vs. Cards

Bucs, Cubs at Busch next six days to try to figure out how to attack St. Louis

Simple plan, hard to execute: Score more vs. Cards

The Pirates have gone 23-12 since July 26, and all it has gained them against the Cardinals is one-half game in the standings. Perhaps the recent trend -- losing four in a row, including being swept in Milwaukee -- is somewhat understandable, as it must be draining to play so well and get so little out of it.

As for as the NL Central goes, the Cubs can certainly relate. They've gone 23-10 since July 29, and while it has established them as favorites for the second Wild Card spot, all it has gotten them in the division race is one game. They have gone from 11 1/2 back to 10 1/2 back.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs to rest Kang, use him more at 3B

Hart's season over due to left shoulder impingement

Bucs to rest Kang, use him more at 3B

MILWAUKEE --- Jung Ho Kang played 117 games for Nexen last year, a typical workload in the Korea Baseball Organization's 128-game season.

Wednesday night, Kang played in his 111th game of a maiden Major League season that still has a hard month to go. Seeing Kang draw an error on one wide throw from short and not be able to flag down a couple of other grounders confirmed Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's suspicion the Rookie of the Year challenger needs to ramp down.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen named NL's top player for August

Pirates center fielder posted a 1.079 OPS in 27 games during the month

McCutchen named NL's top player for August

Andrew McCutchen has been playing his best baseball of the season, and he was awarded for it Thursday, when the Pirates center fielder was named as the National League Player of the Month for August.

McCutchen had a slash line of .348/.470/.609 for an OPS of 1.079 in August -- all monthly bests on the season -- with five homers and 19 RBIs in 27 games to win the award.

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

Struggles could cost Locke spot in rotation

Left-hander allows five runs over 3 2/3 innings in loss to Brewers

Struggles could cost Locke spot in rotation

MILWAUKEE -- Jeff Locke found himself in the middle of the first of what doubtless will be many September tipping points for the Pirates. Locke lost his balance and, as a result, might have lost his spot in the rotation.

Manager Clint Hurdle wasn't prepared to discuss Locke's status after his weak 3 2/3-inning outing was a major reason for Wednesday's 9-4 loss to the Brewers.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Locke unable to get through 4th in loss to Crew

Locke unable to get through 4th in loss to Crew

MILWAUKEE -- The fortunes of the Pirates and the Brewers have changed in the big picture. But the inset remains the same: Even as National League Central also-rans, the Brewers own the contending Bucs, particularly in Miller Park. For the latest evidence, the Crew dealt the Pirates another sound defeat on Wednesday, 9-4, behind Jonathan Lucroy's three RBIs and two each by Adam Lind and Scooter Gennett.

"We kept them off the board only in two innings tonight," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said about a 15-hit Milwaukee attack begun against Jeff Locke and continued against his relief. "That makes it more challenging. Locke's command was come and go throughout the game."

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle embraces challenge of chasing Cards

Pirates manager impressed with how St. Louis has performed this season

Hurdle embraces challenge of chasing Cards

MILWAUKEE -- The Pirates have gone 17-8 since Aug. 6, when they were six games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central. They have gone 34-19 since July 2, when they were six games behind the Cardinals. They have gone 52-28 since June 1, when they were six games behind the Cardinals.

After a 9-4 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday, plus the Cardinals' loss to the Nationals, the Pirates are six games behind St. Louis. Any way you slice it, chasing the Cards has gone about as well as a dog chasing its own tail.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole has rare off start in loss to Brewers

Cole has rare off start in loss to Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Adam Lind's two-run double highlighted a first-inning ambush of Pirates ace Gerrit Cole as the Brewers derailed the Cole Train and Pittsburgh's postseason express with a 7-4 victory at Miller Park on Tuesday night.

Lind's two-bagger keyed a four-run first, the Brewers added a run in the second and Jimmy Nelson converted the early lead into his fourth win of the season over the Bucs. Nelson allowed four hits and a run in seven innings, striking out six without issuing a walk and lowering his ERA against Pittsburgh to 1.72 in five starts.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Liz looks 'improved, refined' to Hurdle in relief

Righty throws two no-hit innings for Pirates during return to Majors

Liz looks 'improved, refined' to Hurdle in relief

MILWAUKEE -- It was a long time, and a lot of hard work, between scoreless outings for Radhames Liz.

There are not many good things about a pasting such as the one absorbed Tuesday night by the Pirates, 7-4 at the Brewers' hands. But a definite positive in this one was the immediate opportunity it gave Liz to showcase what he has worked on for three months with Triple-A Indianapolis.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates call up 6, including Snider and Diaz

Club also adds Decker, LaFromboise, Liz and Scahill

Pirates call up 6, including Snider and Diaz

MILWAUKEE -- The Pirates dipped into their very recent past -- Travis Snider was back in his familiar Black & Gold No. 23 -- and glimpsed the future -- meteoric catching prospect Elias Diaz wore the widest smile in Miller Park's visitors' clubhouse -- as Minor League callups joined manager Clint Hurdle's arsenal Tuesday.

As expected, Snider and Diaz were among six players added to the expanded roster, along with outfielder Jaff Decker, lefty Bobby LaFromboise and right-handers Radhames Liz and Rob Scahill -- who was recalled from his rehab assignment (forearm tightness) and activated off the disabled list.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prospects Meadows, McGuire headed to AFL

Prospects Meadows, McGuire headed to AFL

MILWAUKEE -- Outfielder Austin Meadows and catcher Reese McGuire, the Pirates' two first-round choices in the 2013 Draft, headline seven Buccos prospects selected to participate in the 2015 Arizona Fall League season.

Meadows, the ninth overall pick in that '13 Draft, and McGuire, No. 14, are both finishing up the Minor League season with Class A Advanced Bradenton in the Florida State League. They will be joined on the roster of the Glendale Desert Dogs by two of the pitchers McGuire caught with the Marauders, left-hander Cody Dickson and righty Tyler Eppler.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

How the Pirates can overtake St. Louis

Beating NL Central opponents on the road will be key

How the Pirates can overtake St. Louis

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates have been the best team in baseball over the past three months. But there are still a couple of mountains left for them to climb.

No progress was made toward scaling any peaks Tuesday night at Miller Park. Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, who came to this moment with a 2.44 ERA, was knocked around for four runs in the first inning by the fourth-place Brewers. The Brewers won, 7-4.

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Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle's vote of confidence helped Polanco rebound

Outfielder has excelled since manager's assurance he would not be demoted

Hurdle's vote of confidence helped Polanco rebound

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco wasn't worried, but he was wondering. It was early July, and he wasn't hitting. Polanco hadn't really hit in about a year, truth be told -- at least not the way he wanted to.

Was Polanco heading back to Triple-A Indianapolis?

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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.

Bucs' bats stifled by Rockies, De La Rosa

Bucs' bats stifled by Rockies, De La Rosa

PITTSBURGH -- The National League Wild Card-leading Pirates never got to left-hander Jorge De La Rosa -- only home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson did -- as they dropped a 5-0 decision to the Rockies on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park in front of 36,271.

De La Rosa (8-6) pitched six-plus scoreless innings, struck out seven and gave up four hits. Nelson ejected De La Rosa, while manager Walt Weiss was removing him after 93 pitches, for protesting his only walk -- a four-pitch job to Francisco Cervelli to put two on in the seventh.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bastardo stays sharp with 2 strong innings

Pirates lefty records 5 strikeouts in late relief vs. Rockies

Bastardo stays sharp with 2 strong innings

PITTSBURGH -- One of the bright spots for the Pirates in Sunday's 5-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies was left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo, who tossed two scoreless innings and recorded five strikeouts.

"Our relievers have taken it to heart about keeping the game where it is," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "If they come in and it's tied, behind, ahead, trying to give the ball to the guy that comes in behind them in a better spot. Bastardo was able to spot up two innings for us today, make pitches. He struck out five, he was very effective, very efficient."

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Burnett upbeat after 5-inning sim game

Veteran righty hoping for 3 MLB starts in regular season

Burnett upbeat after 5-inning sim game

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett, an established veteran who hasn't pitched since July 30 due to a right elbow injury, has said he expects to make at least three Major League starts before the end of the regular season. He took another step in that direction Sunday, tossing a simulated game in the bullpen at PNC Park prior to the Pirates' 5-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

He tossed five innings under the watchful eye of pitching coach Ray Searage.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs adjust rotation, lining up Cole vs. Cards

Ace to face Brewers on Tuesday, close series in St. Louis

Bucs adjust rotation, lining up Cole vs. Cards

PITTSBURGH -- With the Pirates' scheduled off-day on Monday, manager Clint Hurdle has adjusted his pitching plans for the next two series against National League Central foes Milwaukee and St. Louis. The moves assure that ace right-hander Gerrit Cole will get a start against the division-leading Cardinals.

Cole will start the series opener in Milwaukee on Tuesday night, followed by lefty Jeff Locke on Wednesday and lefty Francisco Liriano on Thursday.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Aramis on RBI prowl since rejoining Bucs

Veteran slugger homers to spark offense against Rockies

Aramis on RBI prowl since rejoining Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- Third baseman Aramis Ramirez's numbers are down since the Pirates acquired him from Milwaukee on July 23. In 81 games with the Brewers this season, Ramirez, 37, had an OPS of .725, still well below his career mark of .833. His OPS slipped to .629 in his first 28 games with the Pirates.

Ramirez, who has said he will retire after this season, launched a three-run homer in the first inning Saturday off Rockies lefty Chris Rusin, giving the Pirates a lead they would not relinquish in a 4-3 victory. Ramirez has 13 homers this year -- 11 of them with the Brewers.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates toast 1960 World Series champs

Pirates toast 1960 World Series champs

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates honored the 1960 World Series championship team prior to Saturday night's game against the Colorado Rockies.

Pittsburgh defeated the New York Yankees in the Series, with Bill Mazeroski hitting the dramatic game-winning home run in the ninth inning of Game 7, giving the Pirates a 10-9 victory and their first championship since 1925.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ to it: Lefty bolstering Bucs' rotation

Southpaw has 1.98 ERA in 5 starts since joining Pirates

Happ to it: Lefty bolstering Bucs' rotation

PITTSBURGH -- Lefty J.A. Happ has given the Pirates' starting rotation a big shot in the arm since being acquired at the July 31 Trade Deadline from Seattle.

He turned in another solid effort Saturday night, holding the Rockies to one run on five hits through 5 2/3 innings in a 4-3 victory at PNC Park.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ram shot: Early HR leads way past Rockies

Ram shot: Early HR leads way past Rockies

PITTSBURGH -- Aramis Ramirez's three-run, first-inning homer and J.A. Happ's solid 5 2/3 innings were all the Pirates needed in a 4-3 victory Saturday night at PNC Park. The second-place Pirates kept pace in the National League Central, remaining 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals.

Ramirez hit his 13th homer of the season, and second since arriving in a trade with the Brewers, after Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen singled with one out. Those were three of the five hits, and all of the runs, Pittsburgh managed against Rockies lefty Chris Rusin (4-7). But they were enough for the Pirates -- leading the NL Wild Card race -- to win their seventh in the last eight games and 10th in the last 12.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Throw-lanco: Pirate shows off cannon

Right fielder nabs Reyes at home to preserve 8th-inning tie

Throw-lanco: Pirate shows off cannon

PITTSBURGH -- Right fielder Gregory Polanco saved the bacon for the Pirates in the eighth inning of their 5-3 victory over Colorado on Friday night.

With the game tied, 3-3, Polanco caught a one-out line drive from Nolan Arenado and gunned down Jose Reyes at home plate, completing an inning-ending double play.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harrison's clutch hit, Polanco's arm lift Bucs

Harrison's clutch hit, Polanco's arm lift Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- Not long ago, Josh Harrison rejoined the Pirates' lineup. On Friday night, he rejoined the team's fun by delivering a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning of a 5-3 victory over the Rockies at PNC Park in front of 32,607.

After missing 38 games with a right thumb injury and going 2-for-13 in his first six games back, Harrison stepped up as a pinch-hitter with two on and two outs to single off Scott Oberg (3-3), breaking a 3-3 tie as the National League Wild Card-leading Pirates won for the ninth time in 11 games and 13th in the last 16. Gregory Polanco, who earlier made two key throws, singled in another eighth-inning run to complete a 3-for-5, two-run night.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

What a catch: Cervelli, Stewart solidify Bucs

Backstop tandem providing total package in Pittsburgh

What a catch: Cervelli, Stewart solidify Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- You could make a case that the Pirates, with Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart, have the best catching tandem in baseball.

Cervelli was acquired from the Yankees in the offseason to replace four-time All-Star Russell Martin, who signed as a free agent with Toronto. Cervelli hasn't disappointed, entering Friday batting a career-high .306, second only to Buster Posey among regular Major League catchers. Cervelli and Stewart were hitting a combined .303, a Major League best for catchers.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alvarez's solo blast reaches rare territory

Pirates first baseman's 443-foot homer shows off his power

Alvarez's solo blast reaches rare territory

MIAMI -- Marlins Park can be a frustrating place for even the most powerful hitters. The lime-green wall in center field is 418 feet away, but it often feels like a mile. All week, the Pirates watched balls get swallowed up by the vast outfield expanse.

But Pedro Alvarez made the park's sizable dimensions look small in the fourth inning Thursday night, blasting a 443-foot solo shot off Marlins lefty Justin Nicolino that wound up being the deciding run in the Pirates' 2-1 win.

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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.