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McCutchen homers, Pirates blank Brewers 5-0, end 4-game skid

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Andrew McCutchen hit his first home run of the season and Jon Niese combined with two relievers on a three-hitter as the Pittsburgh Pirates blanked the Milwaukee Brewers 5-0 on Saturday night to end their four-game losing streak.

McCutchen’s solo shot off Taylor Jungmann in the fifth inning increased the Pirates’ lead to 4-0 after they scored three runs in the fourth.

The drive to left field came in the star center fielder’s 54th plate appearance. McCutchen was so happy that he stopped in front of dugout after rounding the bases, broke into a big smile and raised his hands skyward.

Niese (2-1) won his second straight start, giving up all three hits while walking three and striking out three in seven innings. The Pirates were tagged for 30 runs during their skid. Acquired from the New York Mets in an offseason trade, the left-hander also notched a win Monday at Detroit

Tony Watson and Mark Melancon finished the shutout with one scoreless inning each. Melancon struck out the side.

Jungmann (0-2) had his road woes continue as he allowed four runs and six hits in six innings with six strikeouts and one walk. The Brewers have lost Jungmann’s last nine starts away from Milwaukee and he is 0-8 with 9.39 ERA in those games.

The Brewers (5-6) lost for the third time in four games. The Pirates (6-6) got back to .500 after winning for just the second time in eight games since beginning the season 4-0.

Last season, as a rookie, Jungmann went 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts against the Pirates.

Josh Harrison had two hits and drove in two runs for the Pirates, including an RBI triple that highlighted the three-run third and a single in the eighth that capped the scoring.

Francisco Cervelli also had two hits and leadoff hitter John Jaso extended his hitting streak to seven games with a third-inning single.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Brewers: RHP Blaine Boyer (strained neck) was available to pitch in relief after having missed a week but did not get into the game.

Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (strained right hamstring) threw in the bullpen before the game and declared himself ready to start Tuesday night at San Diego. He was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday against Detroit.

UP NEXT

Rookie Zach Davies will be recalled by the Brewers from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday to start the finale of the three-game series against Juan Nicasio (1-1, 5.00). Davies is 0-0 with a 2.00 ERA in two starts with Colorado Springs after going 3-2 with a 3.71 ERA in six starts for Milwaukee at the end of last season.

Video: Starling Marte refuses to take first base after being hit by pitch

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was hit on the hand by a Jack Flaherty pitch in the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Cardinals. Rather than take first base, Marte — who came to the plate with a runner on first base — insisted to home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman that the ball hit the knob of the bat, not his hand. Marte was allowed to continue his at-bat, though manager Clint Hurdle came out to discuss the ruling with Dreckman. Marte eventually grounded into a fielder’s choice. He then got caught attempting to steal second base and the Pirates scored zero runs in the inning.

According to Baseball Prospectus, a team that has runners on first and second with no outs is expected to score 1.55 runs. Having a runner on first base with one out yields 0.56 expected runs. Marte essentially cost his team a run by rejecting first base. Oops.