Saturday night, the Pirates displayed some fireworks before the fireworks.
Not those that prematurely exploded from center field when Joel Hanrahan allowed a two-out double in the ninth inning to Dustin Pedroia, a ball that Xavier Paul nearly caught against the Clemente Wall, though the fireworks operator could not be blamed. The Pirates' dugout thought the game was over, too, and Jeff Karstens was halfway over the railing before he realized what happened.
No, the fireworks before the postgame fireworks show came in the form of home runs from Lyle Overbay and Garrett Jones that sparked the Pirates to a 6-4 win against the Boston Red Sox in front of 39,483, the largest crowd to attend a baseball game in PNC Park history.
Game: Pirates vs. Red Sox, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park.
TV, radio: Root Sports, WPGB-FM (104.7).
Pitching: RHP James McDonald (5-4, 4.86) vs. LHP Andrew Miller (0-0, 4.76).
Key matchup: Adrian Gonzalez is one of two Red Sox to have at-bats against McDonald, but is 3 for 5 in his career against him.
Of note: Miller, the sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft, is 15-26 in six major league seasons.
"I think it's awesome," Karstens said. "I think there's a lot of people that looked at us like they're just going to walk in here and beat us up. We've silenced that a little bit."
Overbay hit a three-run homer in the fourth, and Jones crushed a solo homer in the seventh.
The Pirates did not do much for three innings against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, still baffling batters at age 44 with 65 mile-per-hour butterflies that dance around the strike zone.
"The first time through he was throwing the faster knuckleball, and it wasn't breaking as much," said Overbay, who faced Wakefield often while with the Toronto Blue Jays. "I said, 'Just wait, because it will.' The second time through, he started throwing that one that drops off the table."
Overbay found his pitch with a 3-2 count in the fourth, driving it into last few rows of seats above the Clemente Wall.
"It just didn't do a whole lot," he said. "As soon as he threw it, he just kind of put his head down.."
Overbay's home run scored Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker and gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
"Well-timed," manager Clint Hurdle said of the home run. "That's what we've been planning on getting from Lyle on occasion. The last two nights he's come out and swung the bats really crisp, driving the ball, staying behind the ball. It's a welcome addition to our lineup."
The Pirates extended the lead to 5-2, but the Red Sox came back to make it a one-run game until Jones widened the gap in the seventh. He clobbered the first pitch he saw from Matt Albers to deep right-center field in the seventh to extend the lead to 6-4.
Karstens (5-4) earned the win and threw 109 pitches, the most this season and the most he has thrown since June 5, 2009. He got help from five relievers, including closer Joel Hanrahan, who earned his 22nd save.
Karstens had thrown 97 pitches after six innings, but batted in the bottom of the sixth and returned to the mound in the seventh. Hurdle said he allowed Karstens to continue to ease the load on the bullpen, which has worked hard and often recently.
"I got two guys out there that had pitched four out of six days," Hurdle said. "For me it was a no-brainer to get him out there and see if he could roll through another inning. We've got to push the envelope in some areas once in a while to try to alleviate some of that workload."
Instead, Karstens allowed homers to Josh Reddick and Jacoby Ellsbury, bringing the Red Sox's total off him in to three and cutting the lead to 5-4. Karstens, who has pitched into the seventh each of his past five starts, said he was not surprised he went back out.
"It was one of those things where it give me a lot of confidence knowing that Clint's sending me out to the seventh even though I'm at 97 pitches, where, in the past, sometimes after five [innings] and 75 [pitches] I'd be pulled," he said.
Adrian Gonzalez hit a 2-0 pitch over the wall in left-center field for his 16th home run in the third, giving Boston a 2-0 lead.
After Overbay's three-run homer in the fourth, Ronny Cedeno doubled down the left-field line, and Karstens got his first major-league RBI -- "I think I just closed my eyes and swung" -- with a single up the middle that scored Cedeno, giving the Pirates a 4-2 lead.
In the fifth, Chase d'Arnaud singled and scored when McCutchen's grounder went through Pedroia's legs, and the Pirates led, 5-2.
The lead held for Hanrahan, who is 22 for 22 in save situations this season. He did not retire Pedroia as Karstens thought, but he got Gonzalez to strike out on a check swing to end the game, giving the Pirates their fourth consecutive win.
"Craziness," Jones said of the dugout's reaction. "We're just real excited."
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org .