PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pinch-hitter Russell Martin singled home the winning run in the 14th inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates earned their ninth straight victory, defeating the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 Sunday.
The Pirates extended their longest winning streak since 2004, when they took 10 in a row. Pittsburgh reached the midpoint of its season with the best record in the majors at 51-30.
Gaby Sanchez led off the 14th with an infield single. With one out, he stole second for his first steal in more than a year. After a walk, Martin hit a soft liner to center off Francisco Rodriguez (1-1).
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Sanchez chugged around third and slid home ahead of the throw by Carlos Gomez.
Vin Mazzaro pitched five perfect innings. He was among six Pirates relievers who combined for 11 scoreless innings after Charlie Morton was pulled following a rain delay of 2 hours, 20 minutes.
Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon each pitched a scoreless inning following Mazzaro — allowing a total of two hits and no walks.
Tony Watson (2-1) struck out four in three hitless innings.
Andrew McCutchen hit a tying single in the Pittsburgh eighth.
Bidding for the franchise’s first winning season or playoff berth in 21 years, surprising Pittsburgh enters July with the most wins in the majors. The crowd of 35,351 was about three 3,000 shy of capacity, snapping the PNC Park-record sellout streak of five games.
The vast majority of those on hand waited out a downpour not long after Milwaukee scored an unearned run in the second inning off of Morton, making his fourth start since returning from 2012 elbow surgery.
The Pirates trailed for roughly the next four hours — after the delay, Tyler Thornburg and Mazzaro traded shutout innings — until tying it in the eighth against Jim Henderson. Marte walked with one out, advanced on a groundout and came home on McCutchen’s single.
The Pirates almost won it in the ninth, loading the bases against former Pittsburgh pitcher Michael Gonzalez. But pinch-hitter Brandon Inge struck out swinging to end the inning.
Pittsburgh loaded the bases again in the 13th with one out, but Rodriguez got Pedro Alvarez to ground into a 3-6-3 double play. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke utilized five infielders — all playing in — for the sequence.
Martin Maldonado had three hits for Milwaukee, which got its only run when Yuniesky Betancourt came home on Logan Schafer’s bunt in the second.
Notes: LF Schafer robbed Sanchez of a home run by reaching over the left-center field wall for a catch in the seventh. . . . After a team off-day Monday, Pirates LHP Jeff Locke (7-1, 2.06) carries a personal seven-game winning streak into Tuesday’s series opener against Philadelphia. The visiting Phillies counter with rookie RHP Jonathan Pettibone (3-3, 4.17). . . . After the Brewers begin a four-game series in Washington on Monday, the lone NL team they will have yet to face will be the New York Mets.