Pirates bolster bullpen, recall righty Schugel

Infielder Frazier optioned to rookie-level Bristol

Pirates bolster bullpen, recall righty Schugel

MILWAUKEE -- The Pittsburgh Pirates added an extra bullpen arm prior to Sunday's game in Milwaukee, recalling right-hander A.J. Schugel from Triple-A Indianapolis.

To clear room for Schugel, infielder Adam Frazier was optioned to rookie-level Bristol.

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Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Bauman: Pirates step up amid Cole news

Bauman: Pirates step up amid Cole news

MILWAUKEE -- Ordinarily, a three-game winning streak for the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park would be cause for unrestrained rejoicing.

The Pirates on Saturday night won their third straight in Milwaukee; a 9-6 victory over the Brewers that included a comeback from a four-run deficit. But another development made this a less than ecstatic evening for the Bucs.

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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.

Bucs keep it in the park, outslug Crew in win

Bucs keep it in the park, outslug Crew in win

MILWAUKEE -- In a game of big innings, it was the Pirates who hung the last crooked number on the scoreboard Saturday night.

Gregory Polanco came off the bench to hit a tiebreaking, three-run double in the sixth for a 9-6 win over the Brewers at Miller Park, where Pirates starter Jameson Taillon was not the only pitcher to struggle. He surrendered five earned runs in three innings for his worst start this season, but six different Pirates batters drove in at least one run as Pittsburgh pulled to within 1 1/2 games of St. Louis in the race for the second National League 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.

Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee and covered the Pirates on Saturday.

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

Cole will miss Monday start

Right-hander flying to Los Angeles to have pitching elbow examined

Cole will miss Monday start

MILWAUKEE -- Gerrit Cole will not make his scheduled start Monday in Chicago in order to seek a second opinion on his right elbow, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington announced after Saturday's 9-6 win over the Brewers.

Steven Brault will be recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to pitch Monday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

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Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Polanco's pinch-hit 2B snaps skid at Miller Park

Polanco's pinch-hit 2B snaps skid at Miller Park

MILWAUKEE -- Miller Park has been a house of horrors for many of Pittsburgh's top hitters, including Gregory Polanco.

Given a blow from the starting lineup Saturday after consecutive 0-for-5 games dropped his career batting average to .138 (8-for-58) in Milwaukee, Polanco delivered a pinch-hit, bases-clearing double in the sixth inning to lift the Pirates to a 9-6 win.

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Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Taillon on Perez: 'He's a Latin Babe Ruth'

Brewers' slugger now 5-for-7 with 3 HRs against Pirates' pitcher

Taillon on Perez: 'He's a Latin Babe Ruth'

MILWAUKEE -- "He's a Latin Babe Ruth or something like that," Pirates rookie Jameson Taillon said of the Brewers' Hernan Perez, laughing about a respectful rivalry that has swung wildly of late in the Nuevo Bambino's favor.

Perez homered twice and drove in four runs against Taillon in the first three innings of the Pirates' 9-6 win over the Brewers at Miller Park on Saturday. The Pirates rallied back from a 5-1 deficit to win the game, but not before Perez improved to 5-for-7 in the Majors against Taillon with three home runs.

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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.

Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee and covered the Pirates on Saturday.

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

On eve of birthday, Bucs' Mercer hits 1st slam

Shortstop breaks game open with blast in five-run sixth

On eve of birthday, Bucs' Mercer hits 1st slam

MILWAUKEE -- Before Friday's game against the Brewers, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle directed a short lesson on two-strike hitting to reporters gathered in his office. Shortstop Jordy Mercer was not in attendance, but he must have gotten the lecture notes from somebody.

Mercer launched his first career grand slam on an 0-2 slider against Matt Garza to vault the Pirates to a five-run lead in an eventual 5-3 win at Miller Park.

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Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Vogelsong rewriting ending to Pirates career

Vogelsong rewriting ending to Pirates career

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Vogelsong, coming back from his latest bout of adversity, continues to provide baseball with an uplifting story. More to the current point, he is providing the Pittsburgh Pirates with outs.

Vogelsong was the winning pitcher Friday night as the Pirates defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-3. Over 5 1/3 innings, Vogelsong gave up two runs, both of which scored after he left the game. The Pirates, who had lost nine straight at Miller Park, have now won two in a row in Milwaukee.

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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.

On Mercer's slam, Bucs keep pace in WC race

On Mercer's slam, Bucs keep pace in WC race

MILWAUKEE -- Jordy Mercer's first career grand slam pushed the Pirates to the brink of something even rarer: A series win at Miller Park.

Mercer's slam off Matt Garza capped a five-run sixth that began with back-to-back errors by Brewers third baseman Jonathan Villar. Top Milwaukee prospect Orlando Arcia answered with a three-run shot in the bottom of the inning -- his first career home run -- but the Pirates held on, 5-3, for their second win in as many nights to open this four-game series.

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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.

Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.

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

Pirates' playoff run receiving boost from Cutch

Former NL MVP squaring ball up again, driving it to right, center

Pirates' playoff run receiving boost from Cutch

MILWAUKEE -- As the Pirates gear up for a playoff push, they may be getting a return to form from Andrew McCutchen.

If Thursday's game against the Brewers was any indication, the Pirates could be getting the McCutchen of the past seven years. McCutchen homered and laced two singles to the right side of second base, including his 10th-inning game-winning hit 105.6 mph off the bat, according to Statcast™.

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Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle once had to comfort Pirate about hotel ghost

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Hurdle once had to comfort Pirate about hotel ghost

Heading into Thursday night's game against the Brewers, the Pirates had lost nine straight at Miller Park. Plenty of reasons were given for the skid: the difficulty of winning on the road against a division rival, the flukiness of a nine-game sample, the magic of Hank the Ballpark Pup.

But perhaps we've been looking in the wrong place. Perhaps such an improbable streak is the work of something ... supernatural. Every time the Pirates come to Milwaukee, it turns out, they stay in the legendary Pfister Hotel -- one of the most famous hotels in America and, according to legend, also one of the most haunted

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McCutchen's 3 RBIs lead Bucs to win in extras

McCutchen's 3 RBIs lead Bucs to win in extras

MILWAUKEE -- It was Andrew McCutchen 3, Milwaukee Brewers 2 in 10 innings at Miller Park.

McCutchen delivered three run-scoring hits to account for every Pirates run in a 3-2 win over the Brewers on Thursday, bookending the night with a solo home run in the first inning and a tiebreaking two-out single in the 10th. McCutchen's 10th-inning hit off Brewers reliever Carlos Torres scored John Jaso, who sparked Pittsburgh's winning rally with a pinch-hit single.

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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.

Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.

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

Kuhl stays cool vs. Crew, continues strong '16

Right-hander allows two runs over 6 1/3 against the Brewers

Kuhl stays cool vs. Crew, continues strong '16

MILWAUKEE -- The puns are there to be had -- he's a Kuhl customer, Kuhl under pressure and so on -- but starter Chad Kuhl's performance in the Pirates' 3-2 win on Thursday against the Brewers was no joke.

Making his eighth big league start, Kuhl kept Milwaukee's offense under control through 6 1/3 innings until eventually cracking, as he led the Pirates to just their 18th win in their last 82 games at Miller Park. With the Cardinals falling to the Mets, Pittsburgh drew within 2 1/2 games of the second Wild Card spot, as well.

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Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Pirates not haunted by Miller Park struggles

Pittsburgh snaps 9-game slide in Milwaukee with 10-inning victory

Pirates not haunted by Miller Park struggles

MILWAUKEE -- It had become imperative for the Pittsburgh Pirates to figure out a way to win at Miller Park.

On Thursday night, the Pirates solved the riddle with a 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Brewers, snapping a nine-game losing streak at Miller Park. But this result required several elements -- a commendable start by rookie Chad Kuhl, clutch hitting by center fielder Andrew McCutchen and scoreless work from four relievers.

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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.

Cole trying to find root of extended struggles

Cole trying to find root of extended struggles

PITTSBURGH -- What's gone wrong with Gerrit Cole?

This time last year, Cole was establishing himself as one of the game's best young pitchers, beginning an eight-start stretch that would cement his status as a top-five Cy Young Award finisher in the National League. But now, after a disappointing five-inning outing in a 5-4 loss to the Astros at PNC Park, Cole is searching for answers.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bell making strides on defensive side

Kang begins basic baseball activities; Glasnow could return Saturday

Bell making strides on defensive side

PITTSBURGH -- Josh Bell started at first base for the fourth straight game in Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Astros, reinforcing the Pirates' suggestion that he will play more often than not after being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday.

So don't be surprised if Bell keeps starting games down the stretch. And don't be surprised if the slugging prospect doesn't finish many of those games at first base, either.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rally falls short as Pirates drop rubber game

Rally falls short as Pirates drop rubber game

PITTSBURGH -- Fighting to keep their spot in a crowded American League Wild Card picture, the Astros did exactly what they needed to during a seven-game swing through Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Coming off a series victory over the Orioles, the Astros claimed another over the Pirates with Wednesday's 5-4 win at PNC Park, their fifth win in six games.

Houston got the best of Pittsburgh right-hander Gerrit Cole, whose monthlong struggles continued with a disappointing five-inning start. Cole allowed five runs on seven hits, the biggest a two-run homer in the second by Astros catcher Evan Gattis. In five starts this month, Cole posted a 6.07 ERA. He was outdueled by Collin McHugh, who allowed seven hits but limited the Pirates to three runs in five innings.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

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

Keller among top prospect performers Wednesday

Red Sox flamethrower notches 10 K's with career-high seven frames

Keller among top prospect performers Wednesday

Michael Kopech may be the hottest pitcher in all of Minor League Baseball these days as he continues to shut down opposing lineups with a plethora of strikeouts.

The 20-year-old was on fire once again Wednesday, leading Class A Advanced Salem to a 9-1 win over Potomac.

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

Lights-out Nova hurls 98-pitch CG at Astros

Lights-out Nova hurls 98-pitch CG at Astros

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco homered twice Tuesday night, leading a resurgent Pirates offense out of its brief funk. But Ivan Nova hardly needed the help, throwing a complete game in a 7-1 win over the Astros at PNC Park.

Nova put an end to Pittsburgh's four-game losing skid, breezing through Houston's lineup and ending the Astros' four-game winning streak. He also reversed both clubs' recent fortunes in the Wild Card standings. The Pirates pulled back within 2 1/2 games of the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot, while the Astros fell 4 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the American League race.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

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

Polanco's 2-HR game leads lineup breakout

Pirates right fielder also in the middle of 6 straight hits to open 4-run first

Polanco's 2-HR game leads lineup breakout

PITTSBURGH -- Four out of every five days, every time he's not starting, Ivan Nova finds Gregory Polanco in the dugout to ask a simple question: "Hey, when are you going to hit a homer?" To which Polanco politely replies, "One day. One day, I will."

One day came Tuesday, and Polanco went deep twice for Nova. Not just to satisfy his daily query, but to support the starter's complete-game gem, snap Pittsburgh's offensive slump and lead the Pirates to a 7-1 win over the Astros at PNC Park.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kingham among top prospect performers Tuesday

Top Mets prospects continue to show off talent at Double-A

Kingham among top prospect performers Tuesday

Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith proved worthy of their elite prospect rankings as the duo led Double-A Binghamton to a 9-1 victory over Hartford on Tuesday night.

The duo, ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the Mets' system, combined to go 6-for-10 with five RBIs in just the latest of several good offensive games for both players.

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

Two-seamer has become Taillon's primary pitch

Two-seamer has become Taillon's primary pitch

PITTSBURGH -- Jameson Taillon spent more than a year refining his mechanics, preparing himself to effortlessly pitch down in the zone. A little more than a week before his Major League debut, the Pirates made one more tweak to help turn Taillon into a ground-ball machine.

Before his second-to-last start in Triple-A, Taillon met with pitching coach Stan Kyles, pitching coordinator Scott Mitchell and assistant GM Kyle Stark to talk about his pitch selection. Primarily a four-seam fastball pitcher, Taillon always threw a two-seamer as a situational pitch, a weapon to be deployed in specific situations.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates sign Freese to 2-year extension

Veteran infielder eager to help Pittsburgh win WS championship

Pirates sign Freese to 2-year extension

PITTSBURGH -- David Freese sat on a concrete block in the bowels of Dodger Stadium, expecting the question and wasting little time before answering it. Could he see himself staying in Pittsburgh beyond this year?

"For sure," he said a little more than a week ago. "Absolutely."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Taillon's solid start isn't enough to slow Astros

Taillon's solid start isn't enough to slow Astros

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates rookie Jameson Taillon threw eight strong innings on Monday night, but it wasn't enough to stop his childhood-favorite team. The Astros stayed hot in their pursuit of an American League Wild Card spot, riding seven scoreless innings from Doug Fister to a 3-1 win in the series opener at PNC Park.

Houston won its fourth straight and remained 3 1/2 games back in the AL Wild Card race. Pittsburgh appears to be heading in the opposite direction after losing four in a row, a skid in which the Bucs have totaled nine runs. With the loss, the Pirates fell 3 1/2 games behind the idle Cardinals in the National League Wild Card chase.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

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

Ending of Astros-Pirates game intense for young fan

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Ending of Astros-Pirates game intense for young fan

Baseball is a game of intense emotions. Happy, sad, excited, frustrated, both fans and players alike ride the roller coaster on a daily basis. 

On Monday night, the Astros took the opener of a series from the Pirates, 3-1, at PNC Park. As seen atop this post, the final out of the game was especially eventful -- after a throwing error from Astros rookie Alex Bregman, a decision by Pirates' third baseman David Freese and a stellar throw from Houston first baseman Marwin Gonzalez.  

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What is impact of Freese deal on Pirates?

Pittsburgh signs infielder to two-year contract extension

What is impact of Freese deal on Pirates?

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates infielder David Freese signed a two-year, $11 million contract extension on Monday, making him the latest in a growing line of players to commit to Pittsburgh for the long haul.

"It's the best street cred in the game," manager Clint Hurdle said. "When you develop that type of culture and you have this type of environment, these are some of the byproducts."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates confident their cool bats will heat up

Offense manages just 5 hits in squandering Taillon's strong outing

Pirates confident their cool bats will heat up

PITTSBURGH -- Monday night brought cooler evening air than PNC Park has felt most of the summer, but what played out on the field followed a more familiar script.

The Pirates got the pitching they needed in a series-opening 3-1 loss to the Astros, but their bats were too often silent. Pittsburgh lost its fourth straight game, and the offense has produced a total of nine runs in those four losses.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Check out a young Jameson Taillon in full Astros gear

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Check out a young Jameson Taillon in full Astros gear

As Jameson Taillon pitched against the Astros on Monday night, he didn't have any conflicts on who he wants to win: It was the Pirates all the way. But if there were some sort of time-space continuum rift and a child-version of the pitcher was to arrive at the game, well, he might feel a little different. 

After all, Taillon hails from Woodlands, Texas, a town roughly 40 minutes outside of Houston. So growing up he naturally was a huge Astros fan. 

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