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Pirates rally for dramatic win

Mike McKenry fouled off five straight pitches on an 0-2 count in the bottom of the 8th before launching a three-run homer to left field, lifting the Pirates to a thrilling 7-4 win over the Cubs in front of another frenzied sell out at PNC Park.

Don’t tell these battling Buccos they can’t come from behind.

Michael McKenry hit a 3-run homerun, Josh Harrison went 3-for-4 with an RBI, and the Pirates scored four runs in the 8th inning off of Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol to rally and beat the Chicago Cubs, 7-4, before a sellout crowd at PNC Park Friday night.

The Pirates came from behind twice in this game. Andrew McCutchen hit a game-tying solo shot in the 6th inning, but the Pirates couldn’t hold the lead.

Fortunately for them, it allowed for some late-game heroics.

Marshall walked pinch-hitter Matt Diaz to start the 8th, and after pinch-runner Pedro Ciriaco replaced Diaz, Lyle Overbay followed with his second hit of the night. Harrison then lined a single to center, scoring Ciriaco to tie the game.

Marmol then quickly got ahead of McKenry 0-2 in the count, but the newly acquired catcher fouled off five consecutive pitches before blasting the first homerun of his career to left field, clearing the bases and giving the Pirates the lead for good.

“I was just trying to battle. Everyone knows [Marmol] has an electric fastball and a real good slider. I was just trying to put a ball in play, and luckily I was able to put the ball in the air and out of the ballpark,” McKenry said.

James McDonald (5-4, 4.42) didn’t factor in the decision, but pitched well enough to keep the Pirates in the game. The right-hander labored at times, throwing 99 pitches in only 5 2/3 innings, but only surrendered 3 runs on 5 hits. He walked 2 and struck out 4.

His counterpart, journeyman Rodrigo Lopez (1-2, 4.02) also got a no decision, but still managed to keep the Buccos in check. He gave up 3 runs on 8 hits in 6 innings, walking only 1 while striking out 3. The righty pitched well enough to keep the game tied, but his bullpen squandered away the lead.

Daniel McCutchen pitched a third of an inning for the win, improving to 3-1. Marshall was tagged with the loss, falling to 5-3 on the season.

McCutchen’s 13th homer of the season tied the game at 3-3 and sent the sellout crowd of 37,140 into a frenzy.

But McKenry’s bomb sent the crowd home happy.

“He caught one as good as he can hit it,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Joel Hanrahan shut the Cubs down in the 9th, recording his 26th save of the season, second-best in the National League. Hanrahan remains a perfect 26-for-26 in save opportunities and has become a key asset to a team entering the All-Star break four games above .500.

With the St. Louis Cardinals loss, the Pirates are now tied for second place in the National League Central division, only a game behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

“To this point in the season, we’ve earned everything we gotten. There’s still a long way to go, but as of now we’ve earned our 46th win,” Hurdle said.

With his two-run single in the third, Neil Walker overtook the New York Yankees Robinson Cano for the RBI lead among second basemen, with his 56th and 57th of the year.

Along with that hit came another milestone for Walker: he has now hit safely in every game he has played in against the Cubs in his career (16 games).

Right-hander Ryan Dempster (5-6, 4.99) takes the hill for the Cubs against Pirates righty Kevin Correia (11-6, 3.74). Correia will be looking for his 12th win of the season, which would tie the Major League lead shared by Jair Jurrjens of Atlanta and the Yankees CC Sabathia. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.

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