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Bucs confident they can produce in the clutch

Bucs confident they can produce in the clutch

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MIAMI -- The Pirates entered Sunday as one of baseball's worst teams with runners in scoring position. Pittsburgh ranked last in the Majors with a .222 average and next to last with 244 RBIs in those situations.

Friday night's 2-0 loss to the Marlins encapsulated the Pirates' struggles, as they went 0-for-6 with runners on second and/or third. But the bats picked it up in clutch situations on Saturday.

Pittsburgh finished 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position and got two-out RBIs from Garrett Jones, Michael McKenry and Pedro Alvarez in a 7-4 victory.

McKenry believes Saturday's offensive outburst is just the beginning.

"No added pressure," the catcher said. "Last year, we had the first half, and we were super hot in June, July. This is the lull of baseball. It's going to turn over. We're going to drive the ball with runners in scoring position more often. We're going to have better at-bats. There's too much talent and there's too much ability in this locker room to do everything they can to get better. We'll be fine."

The Pirates also showed some life offensively when taking three out of four against the Nationals in Washington from July 22-25, scoring 22 runs in the series.

However, they struggled to bring home runners in scoring position against the Nats, finishing just 6-for-41 in those situations, including a 3-for-18 line in the Pirates' 9-7 series-ending loss.

Considering Pittsburgh has had 64 at-bats with runners in scoring position during its past six games, Neil Walker is confident the club will eventually capitalize on its numerous run-scoring opportunities.

"The consistency of the at-bats is getting better," Walker said. "It was better in Washington. I know it's going to continue to improve. It's just a matter of getting the opportunities, getting many chances with guys in scoring position and having consistent at-bats up and down the lineup."

Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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