For the first time since 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates have won their 81st game of the 2013 season with a dramatic 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. With 24 games left in the season, the club is 24 games over .500 and has finally ended the worst losing streak in the history of professional sports.
A gutsy pitching performance from rookie Gerrit Cole highlighted the historical victory. Cole pitched 6 innings, allowed 2 ER, and struck out 5 Brewers. Cole earned a no-decision with his effort as he left the game tied 2-2. With the game tied 3-3 in the top of the 9th, reserve OF Travis Snider (recently activated from the DL) pounded an 86 MPH hanging slider off Brewers pitcher Jim Henderson well over the right-centerfield wall to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead. When asked what it means to end the historical losing streak, Snider said, “It’s a credit to the fans for the support we’ve had. Coming in last year to see the passion of this city and to see fans come out across the country coming out to watch us play, wearing their Pirates gear – that’s what we play for. It’s exciting to be a part of this.”
The one run lead was enough for closer Mark Melancon to slam the door on the Brewers while earning his 11th save of the season. Melancon has done a fantastic job filling in the closer role while closer Jason Grilli has been on the disabled list. Melancon lowered his ERA to 0.87 for the season and will likely retain the closer role until recently activated Jason Grilli is prepared to assume the role again. The Pirates will then resume having the best 8th and 9th inning tandem in all of baseball.
The win over the Brewers gives the Pirates a 2 game lead over the second place St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals lost for the 2nd straight day to the Cincinnati Reds. The Pirates face off Wednesday with the Brewers for the final game of the series and will then have an off day before taking on the Cardinals in St. Louis for a pivotal weekend series.
The Pirates do not seem to be content with eclipsing the elusive 81 victories. After acquiring Marlon Byrd, John Buck, and Justin Morneau at the waiver deadline, the Pirates have positioned themselves to make a serious run at the National League Central crown.