Happ checks in excited to prove himself

Newly acquired lefty meets with pitching coach Searage

Happ checks in excited to prove himself

CINCINNATI -- J.A. Happ checked in early Saturday, not only to join the Pirates starting rotation, but also to shake it up.

The lefty, acquired late Friday from Seattle, will fill in for A.J. Burnett, who is on the disabled list for right elbow inflammation. That slot would have him pitch on Tuesday in PNC Park against the Cubs, between fellow southpaws Francisco Liriano and Jeff Locke. Manager Clint Hurdle and pitching coach Ray Searage aren't crazy about having three straight lefties face the Cubs.

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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.

Marte single-handedly thwarts Reds' rally

Left fielder makes back-to-back stellar plays on defense, preserving Bucs' lead in 9th

Marte single-handedly thwarts Reds' rally

CINCINNATI -- Starling Marte had unleashed impressive throws before. He had made acrobatic, physics-defying catches before. But he had never before showcased his defensive arsenal on back-to-back plays, and he picked a jaw-dropping time to debut that parlay Friday.

Marte single-handedly turned back the Reds in the bottom of the ninth inning. Cincinnati was about to add to its torment of the Pirates and instead was sent home muttering about a 5-4 defeat.

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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.

Bucs defeat Reds thanks to Marte's grab

Bucs defeat Reds thanks to Marte's grab

CINCINNATI -- Following an afternoon where they were frisky at the Trade Deadline with multiple moves, the Pirates battled back and then held on for a 5-4 victory over the Reds on Friday that snapped Cincinnati's three-game winning streak.

Jung Ho Kang scored the go-ahead run on Jumbo Diaz's bases-loaded, two-out wild pitch in the sixth before Starling Marte, who saved the game in the bottom of the ninth with a diving catch, added an RBI single to left field.

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and 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.

Soria makes Bucs debut against Reds

Former Tigers closer embracing new role with Pirates

Soria makes Bucs debut against Reds

CINCINNATI - Joakim Soria had the definite deja vu vibes on Friday. Not only was the right-handed reliever on the move at the non-waiver Trade Deadline for the second straight year, but he also again moved out of his habitual closing role.

A year ago, he was dealt from the back end of Texas' bullpen into the middle of Detroit's. His setup role there lasted only into the first week of this season, when the Tigers lost Joe Nathan to elbow surgery. Soria stepped back into the ninth-inning fire to convert 23 of 26 save opportunities.

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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.

Marte Partay saves the game for the Pirates -- twice

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Marte Partay saves the game for the Pirates -- twice

Poor Cincinnati. Here they thought they were playing just an ordinary baseball game against the Pirates, one that abided by ordinary baseball rules and offered a chance at victory or defeat. Down by just a run in the bottom of the ninth, the Reds rallied, putting two men on with just one out and looking to walk off with a win. 

Little did they know that, in reality, they had been cordially invited to the Marte Partay, and the festivities were about to begin. First, after a Todd Frazier single that seemed sure to tie the game, Starling played a stirring game of Pin the Baseball on Brandon Phillips. 

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Burnett to 15-day DL with elbow inflammation

Guerra designated for assignment; moves make room for Soria, LaFromboise

Burnett to 15-day DL with elbow inflammation

CINCINNATI -- The dramatic midseason transformation of the Pirates came with a significant Friday sidebar, when right-hander A.J. Burnett was placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow.

Additionally, righty Deolis Guerra was designated for assignment by the Bucs.

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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.

Bucs acquire Morse, Happ to close Deadline

Huntington satisfied with Pirates' lower-profile trades

Bucs acquire Morse, Happ to close Deadline

CINCINNATI -- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington is fond of entering winters with the advisory his team "will never win the offseason," a deference to other clubs that raise bigger headlines.

The Bucs didn't "win" July, either, but with five lower-profile moves, Huntington hopes to have revamped the club's roster into one that can win a division.

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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 acquire Soria from Tigers

Bucs bolster bullpen with righty, who was also on Cardinals' wish-list

Pirates acquire Soria from Tigers

CINCINNATI -- The National League Central race still has 10 weeks to go. But the Pirates have already beaten out the Cardinals on one count: Joakim Soria.

Swinging their second deal of the day to solidify the bullpen, the Bucs on Thursday acquired the Tigers' closer -- who had been also on the wish-list of the Cardinals, looking to bolster their own bullpen even after last week's acquisition of Steve Cishek from the Marlins.

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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.

Bucs struggle against hard-hitting Reds

Bucs struggle against hard-hitting Reds

CINCINNATI -- As many eyes spy what both teams might do before today's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Reds produced a big offensive display for a third-straight victory in a 15-5 win over the Pirates on Thursday. Leading the way was Brandon Phillips, who hit two home runs and drove in a career-high seven RBIs. For the second time in eight days, Joey Votto reached base five times, while scoring three runs.

"It was a great game," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "To score that much, and have everybody influence the offense, I know that feels good for our hitters."

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and 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.

Position player Decker pitches in vs. Reds

Outfielder notches scoreless eighth inning in debut on mound

Position player Decker pitches in vs. Reds

CINCINNATI -- Five pitchers worked for the Pirates on Thursday night. Only two avoided being scored upon by the Reds in their 15-5 win: Arquimedes Caminero, who made one pitch to get the final out of the seventh, and Jaff Decker, who worked a scoreless eighth.

Wait. Decker? Didn't he used to be an outfielder?

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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.

Blanton, Worley experience revolving door

Former teammates disappointed they won't play together

Blanton, Worley experience revolving door

CINCINNATI -- Zach Duke hasn't thrown a pitch for the Pirates in five years. However, their former left-hander may have just thrown a lifeline to the Bucs' pennant-stretch pitching staff.

Joe Blanton was an ex-Major League pitcher late last fall when his new neighbor in Nashville, Tenn., went looking for someone to throw to.

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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.

Burnett working through recent slump

Hurdle not sure if veteran righty will remain in rotation

Burnett working through recent slump

CINCINNATI -- In an awkwardly timed media conference, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington was cornered into saying some awkward things. Huntington was discussing via phone the acquisition of reliever Joakim Soria in the early going of the Bucs' game with the Reds, and he was asked about also fortifying the starting rotation in the hours remaining before today's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"I don't see anything available out there that would be an upgrade over what we now have, at the price it is being offered," Huntington 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.

Pirates designate Worley for assignment

Pittsburgh creates roster space to add veteran righty Blanton

Pirates designate Worley for assignment

In order to clear room on the 25-man roster for new acquisition Joe Blanton, the Pirates designated right-hander Vance Worley for assignment on Thursday.

In his second season with Pittsburgh, Worley was 4-5 with a 3.78 ERA in 20 appearances (eight starts).

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AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates pick up righty Blanton from Royals

Pirates pick up righty Blanton from Royals

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates picked up veteran right-hander Joe Blanton late Wednesday night, acquiring him from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations.

Blanton, 34, is expected to join the Pirates before Thursday night's series opener against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Pittsburgh will make a corresponding move after Blanton officially joins the roster.

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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 climb out of early hole to thump Twins

Bucs climb out of early hole to thump Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- Andrew McCutchen had three RBIs, including a two-run homer, to back left-hander Francisco Liriano against his former team in a 10-4 win for the Pirates over the Twins on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field.

McCutchen came up big for Pittsburgh, crushing a game-tying two-run blast in the fifth before coming through with another big hit as part of a five-run sixth. With two runners on, McCutchen smacked a liner to right that Eddie Rosario couldn't handle, and he ended up scoring on the play due to interference from third baseman Eduardo Nunez.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger 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.

Hughes adept at making baserunners disappear

Bucs reliever escapes bases-loaded jam; Kang continues sustained surge

Hughes adept at making baserunners disappear

MINNEAPOLIS -- Matchup relief pitchers are commonplace in baseball. Specialists abound. When a game-changing left-handed hitter comes up, you go get your southpaw. When the bases are loaded, the Pirates go get Jared Hughes.

"I've been going to this man like he's a Swiss Army Knife," manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday afternoon, after Hughes had whittled another opposition hope down to nothing in the Bucs' eventual 10-4 win over the Twins at Target Field.

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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.

Polanco day to day with left knee discomfort

Polanco day to day with left knee discomfort

MINNEAPOLIS -- Hot-hitting Gregory Polanco had to be removed in the middle of Wednesday afternoon's 10-4 win over the Twins, complaining of "discomfort in the left knee."

Polanco has been icing the knee after games for a while now, but he had not previously had to leave a game due to discomfort in the joint.

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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.

Bucs promote top prospect Glasnow to Triple-A

Bucs promote top prospect Glasnow to Triple-A

MINNEAPOLIS -- Tyler Glasnow, the Bucs' No. 1 prospect, has been promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis, keeping him on schedule to join the Pirates' 2016 rotation.

Three weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, the 6-foot-8 right-hander joins Indianapolis after a particularly dominant stretch with Double-A Altoona. In five July starts for the Curve, he posted a 2.40 ERA while racking up 46 strikeouts and just seven walks in 30 innings.

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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.

Kang continues to thrive in key spots

Pirates shortstop delivers tiebreaking HR in ninth

Kang continues to thrive in key spots

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jung Ho Kang was glad he connected for one of those ultimate home runs, with two outs in the ninth inning of a tie ballgame. He just wished he didn't have to do it.

"I wish our games were easier," Kang said after the Pirates' 8-7 victory over the Twins that was anything but. "But I do always enjoy situations like that. When I hit it, I knew [it was gone]."

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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.

Kang's late HR lifts Bucs to wild win

Kang's late HR lifts Bucs to wild win

MINNEAPOLIS -- After the Twins rallied to tie the game with four runs in the eighth inning, Jung Ho Kang delivered a go-ahead solo homer off closer Glen Perkins in the ninth to lift the Pirates to an 8-7 win Tuesday night at Target Field.

Kang's game-winning blast came on a 1-2 slider from Perkins, who left the pitch up in the zone. It was another rough outing for Minnesota's All-Star closer, who has blown two saves with a 14.73 ERA since the All-Star break.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger 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.

Bucs may boost middle relief via trade

Reliable Watson endures rare hiccup in win over Twins

Bucs may boost middle relief via trade

MINNEAPOLIS - The starters' picture is solid. Not only do the Pirates' starting pitchers rate high with their 42 wins and 3.26 ERA, but there are ample next-man-up candidates on the Triple-A level. The bullpen's end is even stouter. When Tony Watson and Mark Melancon have worked back-to-back to close it out, the Bucs are 23-3.

Although, admittedly, the latest entry in that log Tuesday night was somewhat bizarre, as Watson reeled through arguably the worst outing of his career to bring the Twins back into a game the Bucs would eventually bag, 8-7.

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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.

Morton named Bob Feller Act of Valor Award nominee

Morton named Bob Feller Act of Valor Award nominee

The active Major League players and Hall of Famers nominated for the 2015 Bob Feller Act of Valor Award were revealed Tuesday.

The award, now in its third year, honors the legacy of Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, who became the first professional athlete to enlist in the U.S. military after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. A current MLB player, a Hall of Famer and a U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer are recognized each Veterans Day in a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ramirez's career comes full circle with Pirates

Third baseman hopes to add World Series experience to resume

Ramirez's career comes full circle with Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Aramis Ramirez has come a long way since he last played for the Pirates. He was 25 years old when the Bucs traded him to the Cubs -- just entering the prime of a career that lasted 18 seasons.

Twelve years later, Ramirez was traded back to Pittsburgh, where he'll play the final months of his career. And the veteran third baseman was quick to point out that the Pirates have also come a long way since Ramirez last called PNC Park home.

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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.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Cole part of 25-and-unders who are dominating

Cole part of 25-and-unders who are dominating

If we had to pinpoint the one theme of this 2015 season that stands out above all others, it's unquestionably the dominating impact and the infusion of youth on the Major League scene. Never was this more evident than on Monday night when 23-year-old Cubs rookie Kris Bryant cracked his first career walk-off homer into the Wrigley Field bleachers to give the Cubs a dramatic 9-8 win against the Rockies.

And just an hour or so before Bryant's blast landed, the mere suggestion that the Dodgers might consider trading 24-year-old Yasiel Puig turned social media upside down.

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole outduels Ross to pick up MLB-best 14th win

Cole outduels Ross to pick up MLB-best 14th win

PITTSBURGH -- All-Star right-hander Gerrit Cole picked up his Major League-leading 14th win of the season, as the Pirates beat the Nationals, 3-1, at PNC Park on Sunday afternoon.

A day after the Nationals pounded out nine runs on 14 hits, Cole limited Washington to one run on seven hits while striking out eight over 7 2/3 innings. He lowered his ERA to 2.24, the third-lowest mark in the National League.

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

Focus a big key to Cole's success on the mound

Focus a big key to Cole's success on the mound

PITTSBURGH -- It was on Friday night when Gerrit Cole started to get amped up for his Sunday start. He's locked in and focused every time he takes the mound, but he particularly enjoys the opportunity to set the tone at the start of a series and the chance to finish one off.

Cole got that chance on Sunday afternoon against the Nationals and capitalized. He allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings, as the Pirates capped off a four-game series victory with a 3-1 win 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.

S-Rod's 'D' helps Bucs short circuit Nats' rally

S-Rod's 'D' helps Bucs short circuit Nats' rally

PITTSBURGH -- Sean Rodriguez has developed a routine on days he doesn't start. He'll do anything he can to stay loose, he said, "So when it comes to a game, it's just reaction."

Rodriguez's natural instincts and quick reflexes were on full display during the eighth inning of the Pirates' 3-1 win over the Nationals on Sunday at PNC Park. Rodriguez made a sharp stop and a quick turn at first base on a ground ball hit by Bryce Harper to strand two runners and end the eighth inning.

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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.

Huntington open to adding players before Deadline

Huntington open to adding players before Deadline

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates addressed their only glaring weakness a week before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, acquiring Aramis Ramirez on Thursday to help solidify the left side of their infield after a pair of injuries.

But that doesn't necessarily mean the Pirates will remain quiet over the next five days leading up to the Deadline. General manager Neal Huntington said Pittsburgh would still like to add to the club before Sunday's 3-1 win over the Nationals.

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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.