PITTSBURGH (AP) — Travis Snider homered for the first time in nine months and drove in three runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates past the reeling Milwaukee Brewers 7-1 on Thursday night.
Snider finished 3 for 5, including a 458-foot blast off Hiram Burgos (1-2) in the sixth inning that gave the Pirates the lead. The home run sailed over bushes in right-center field at PNC Park, bounced on a sidewalk outside the stadium and landed in the Allegheny River.
Francisco Liriano (2-0) allowed one run on six hits over 5 2-3 innings, striking out seven and walking three.
Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Garrett Jones and Russell Martin had two hits for Pittsburgh.
Burgos gave up three runs in six innings but Milwaukee’s offense sputtered. The Brewers have lost 11 of 13.
While Milwaukee is wobbling, the Pirates are surging. Pittsburgh moved to 24-17 with the win, matching its best start through the first quarter of the season in 21 years. The 1992 Pirates also began the season 24-17 and finished with 96 victories while capturing the NL East. It’s also the last time Pittsburgh finished the season with a winning record.
The romp capped a dramatic turnaround in one of baseball’s most lopsided rivalries. Milwaukee has dominated the Pirates over the last six years, coming into the series 71-25 against Pittsburgh since 2007.
Milwaukee won the opener on Monday before the Pirates responded with a 4-3 win on Tuesday in 12-innings. A 3-1 victory followed on Wednesday before Thursday’s romp, the first time the Pirates have won three straight against the Brewers in the same series since Aug. 16-18, 2009.
Liriano, who signed a two-year free agent contract in the offseason, sparkled in his home debut. The veteran lefthander missed the season’s first six weeks while recovering from a broken right arm. He sailed through his first start, an 11-2 romp over the New York Mets last Saturday.
Things were a little tighter this time around. The Brewers pushed a run across in the first on an RBI-single by Jonathan Lucroy, an inning that could have been bigger if leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki hadn’t been gunned down trying to steal second after a leadoff walk and McCutchen didn’t rob Ryan Braun of extra bases with a leaping grab at the wall in center.
The veteran lefthander seemed to settle down immediately. He struck out four straight batters at one point and worked out of a trouble spot in the fifth when Jonathan Lucroy flied out to left with two on to preserve a 1-1 game.
Snider broke the tie in the bottom of the inning.
Starling Marte led off with an infield hit then Snider crushed an 85 mph fastball from Burgos into the river, the 31st ball in the 12-year history of PNC Park to end up in the water. The homer was Snider’s first since Aug. 10, 2012, shortly after he arrived in Pittsburgh as part of a deal at the trade deadline.
Burgos gave up three runs on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts and remains winless since winning his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs on April 20.
Milwaukee had a chance in the sixth after Clint Barmes bobbled a potential double-play ball at shortstop. Reliever Justin Wilson came on with two outs and retired pinch-hitter Aramis Ramirez on a fly to left with two on and two outs to preserve the lead for Liriano.
The Pirates broke it open in the sixth off reliever Alfredo Figaro, ripping off five straight hits to score four runs and stake the franchise to its best start in 21 years.
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