The Pittsburgh Pirates lineup just received an unexpected boost.
They hope the addition of Marlon Byrd and John Buck helps them snap a three-game losing streak Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
"It's pretty neat to see us make a move like this," second baseman Neil Walker said. "We didn't expect something to happen this late. You usually figure it is something that would happen at the (July 31 non-waiver) trade deadline.
"But these are established guys who can help us get to where we want to go."
Pittsburgh (76-55), 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the NL Central lead, acquired Byrd and Buck from the New York Mets on Tuesday for minor league infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.
The acquisition of Byrd helps fill a void left by Tuesday's news that left fielder Starling Marte will be out for another couple of weeks with a right hand injury.
Byrd has a career-high 21 home runs along with 71 RBIs, and he'll be relied upon to provide power for a team which is among the worst in baseball with 25 home runs against left-handed pitching. Besides being one of the NL leaders with seven homers versus southpaws, Byrd tops the majors since June 28 with a .455 average against left-handers.
"We don't expect him to be a savior, but to be better in (right field) than what we've had so far," general manager Neal Huntington told the team's official website.
Though Byrd may play left field while Marte is out, he could eventually shift across the diamond considering regular right fielder Jose Tabata is batting .269 with four homers.
Buck also can provide some pop, having hit 15 homers and driven in 60 runs this year, but he's expected to back up catcher Russell Martin. Martin, though, has hit .111 without a homer in his last 10 games.
The Pirates did record their most hits since the All-Star break with 15 on Tuesday, but they lost 7-6 to the Brewers (58-73) to open this three-game set.
Aramis Ramirez had three hits and four RBIs for Milwaukee, which blew a five-run lead before Caleb Gindl delivered the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.
"It's a good win for us," said Ramirez, who hit his 350th career home run. "We're not going to the playoffs, but it's fun to play teams that are going to the playoffs. This felt like a playoff game."
Pittsburgh scheduled starter Charlie Morton (5-3, 3.42 ERA) has been looking playoff-ready, going 2-0 with a 2.28 ERA in his last four outings. He needed just 83 pitches Friday to go 7 2-3 innings, allowing one run as he beat San Francisco in a 3-1 victory.
Morton, whose 80.1 ground ball percentage would lead the majors if he had enough innings to qualify, has not yielded a home run in his last 38 2-3 innings.
The right-hander, though, is 0-4 with a 6.25 ERA against the Brewers.
Counterpart Tom Gorzelanny (3-5, 3.60) has had no such trouble with his opponent, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in nine games versus Pittsburgh, but he's been struggling.
The former reliever has been tagged for 12 runs and 16 hits in 8 1-3 innings over his last two starts. He's 2-4 with a 4.81 ERA in eight outings since joining Milwaukee's rotation.
Buck has homered twice off Gorzelanny in eight at_bats and Byrd is 3 for 9 against him.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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