Saturday's crowd at PNC largest ever

Saturday's crowd at PNC largest ever

PITTSBURGH -- Saturday night's Pirates-Phillies game at PNC Park was played before the largest crowd in stadium history.

The announced attendance for the night was 39,441, which beat the previous record of 39,392, set on Aug. 11, 2001, against San Diego.

"Everybody loves to play in front of a big crowd," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It can give you an adrenaline boost, there's no doubt. And then when bigger situations -- those game-changing situations -- come up, it just works. I've always loved it; there's no player that doesn't love it."

It was the Pirates' third sellout crowd of the season. The first two came in an Opening Day loss to Colorado on April 7 and in a May 21 win against Detroit. The 2011 Pirates now hold two of the top three spots in PNC Park attendance history -- Saturday night's game and the 39,219 mark on Opening Day, which ranks third.

The mixture of Pirates and Phillies fans on Saturday made for a boistrous atmosphere. The Pirates won the game, 6-3, and nearly every play received applause as well as boos.

"You try to take it and use it to your advantage," third baseman Brandon Wood said. "You get some excitement out of it. It's nice when you play with a packed house. Sure, there were a few Phillies fans, but we had the Pirates fans overdraw them a little bit."

Through 25 home games this season, the Pirates are averaging 20,196 fans in attendance. That's an 18.6 percent improvement through 25 games over the 2010 attendance. The Pirates were 23-31, overall, at this point in 2010, as opposed to their 28-29 record after Saturday's game. The Bucs' attendance improvement this season ranks fourth in the Majors; Texas is first with 37.1 percent improvement.

"I do believe that we're getting some incremental traction with our fanbase," Hurdle said. "We're playing better, [but] we have a long way to go. Hopefully, it's playing out, and they're seeing this is a fun club to watch."

Last year's weekend series against the Phillies averaged 30,603 fans over four games in early July, but this year's average is expected to be significantly higher.