PITTSBURGH -- Pirates fans have been showing up at PNC Park and cheering on the home team more than they have in a long time. In return, the Bucs have posted the finest home record in baseball. Entering Tuesday, the Pirates were 32-15 when playing along the banks of the Allegheny River. In their last 26 games in this city, they're 21-5. Nobody on the team knows the recent history of the franchise better than Neil Walker, who attended Pine-Richland High School in nearby Gibsonia, Pa.
"We're all comfortable playing at home," Walker said. "We know the elements here. We know it's a tough place to hit. "Our hitting's been timely. Our hitting's been good over the last couple months. The home-field advantage is what it is. We know if we score four, five, six runs, we've got a pretty good chance of winning here." The Pirates are on pace to finish with their first winning home record since 2006, when they went 43-38 at PNC Park. As of Tuesday, they were 1 1/2 games behind Cincinnati for the lead in the National League Central. Walker said not to expect a second half similar to what fans saw in 2011, when the Pirates fell out of contention after a promising first half. "We're going to keep playing the way we are and keep grinding it out," Walker said. "It's going to be a fun next few months."