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Pirates

Pirates Climb Closer To First Place With 8-4 Win

A.J. Burnett

(Photo by Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — The Pirates will make a lot of moves this week, as they take part in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft.

However, it was one non-draft-related move Tuesday that proved to be crucial to the team’s success.

The Pittsburgh Pirates recalled outfielder Alex Presley from Triple-A Indianapolis and he hit a triple and a home run Tuesday night at Cincinnati, driving in a run and scoring two more in an 8-4 Pirates win.

Presley had been optioned to Indianapolis in mid-May, as his batting average had dipped to as low as .220. After fixing his problems in the minors, Presley rode a hot streak into Tuesday night’s game and proved the organization’s move was a beneficial one.

Cincinnati jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Pirates starter A.J. Burnett in the first inning, but Pittsburgh answered right back to tie it in the top of the second when Casey McGehee hit an RBI single and Clint Barmes hit an RBI double.

“It’s good to score early,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s hard to take that team out of the game in this ballpark because they have confidence late.”

Presley then tripled in the third inning and crossed home plate after Neil Walker hit a home run 426 feet to center field for a 4-2 Pirates lead. Barmes followed with a single to left center that drove in two more runs and the Buccos led, 6-2, through three innings.

“The big blow was the two-out, two-run single by Barmes,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “If not for that, Homer might’ve been able to stay in the game. He had trouble locating his fastball, and his secondary pitches weren’t as good as they had been.”

McGehee hit a solo homer to right field in the sixth inning and Presley hit a solo shot to right in the seventh to effectively put the game away.

“It just shows what we’re capable of on offense,” Walker said. “Up and down the lineup, we’ve been able to relax a little more and go out and compete.”

Burnett went five-plus innings, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out eight and walking four.

“You want to go deeper into the game, especially when they get that kind of lead for you early,” Burnett said. “It’s a good sign for our offense today.”

Chris Resop came in and pitched two scoreless innings of relief in the sixth and seventh, and Tony Watson pitched a scoreless eighth.

Juan Cruz struggled in the ninth, allowing a run on three hits. Joel Hanrahan was eventually summoned from the bullpen and closed the game out, earning his 15th save of the season.

The Pirates improved to 28-26 on the season with Tuesday night’s win and closed to within two games of Cincinnati for first place in the NL Central.

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