Pirates notebook: Run production comes many ways

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MILWAUKEE -- The Pirates scored in a few different ways this week in Chicago.

They scored twice on sacrifice flies, producing a winning run with one of them.

They scored on an extra-base hits and a single, too.

But the long ball took the lead as the Pirates clubbed seven home runs to account for 10 of their 17 runs in the three-game series against the Cubs. Just nine games into the season, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was optimistic about what that might foreshadow.

"I think it shows our versatility. It shows our capabilities," he said. "I think this offense is going to continue to grow and I think it's going to show itself to be versatile over the course of the season and I think it's going to show itself to be gritty.

"We can beat you in a couple different ways. Quick-strike long ball. We've got guys who can put down a bunt, steal a base. Actually, we scored without a base hit. That can happen as well. I like some of the threads I've seen show up already offensively."

The comeback win Thursday might have been the most improbable.

It started with a two-run, pinch-hit homer from Travis Snider and was capped by a three-run homer by Pedro Alvarez.

"Anytime we can come back, especially down so many runs, it's a huge plus for the morale and for the team," said Alvarez.

Healthy Locke makes progress

Jeff Locke was activated from the 15-day disabled list Friday and optioned to Class AAA Indianapolis.

Locke (strained right side) made a rehab start Wednesday for Class A Bradenton, throwing 82 pitches in six innings. He gave up five hits, two runs (both earned), walked one and struck out 10.

"He's going to start and pitch in [Indianapolis'] rotation," said Hurdle. "He'll make his starts. We'll see where he can take it."

Stewart makes progress, too

Catcher Chris Stewart also is making progress after knee surgery last month. He went 2 for 7 with Bradenton and now will deal with an increased workload with Indianapolis.

Hurdle said Stewart will go from five innings to seven innings, then play full games.

"We have things mapped out. All predicated on how he feels the next day after he's played," said Hurdle.

"He's been very aggressive with it. He's probably wanted to move some things forward. But we want to make sure we use him the way we're going to use him up here."

After Stewart progresses to playing full games, he will try consecutive games, even coming in late in some games.

"There's still some time in front of him," said Hurdle. "All the challenges to date he's met. As far as the squatting, as far as the throwing, as far as the getting on base, swinging, running, he's in a good place."

Rare high life at Miller Park

Last year, the Pirates put together their first winning season in nine years in Milwaukee, going 5-4 at Miller Park.

The Brewers entered this weekend series riding a six-game win streak. And how do you beat a team like that?

"You pitch well. Good pitching beats good hitting every day of the week. It has for 128 years," said Hurdle. "We know we can win here. We know we can get these guys [out]. But you've got to make pitches.

"You've got to be aggressive. There's got to be intent, conviction and there's got to be execution."

Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter: @JennMenendez.

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