MILWAUKEE -- It had been 42 days since Pedro Alvarez last homered for the Pirates when he launched a 1-0 fastball over the left-field wall Saturday night at Miller Park in the fourth inning to turn the game on a dime.
His next took less than 20 minutes.
Alvarez hit two opposite-field home runs off Wily Peralta in consecutive innings. Russell Martin hit a three-run shot, and Neil Walker had three RBIs and the Pirates roared back from an early deficit to a 10-2 victory.
After trailing, 2-0, they clinched a series win against the National League Central- leading Milwaukee Brewers by finding their power at a most opportune time. They go for a sweep today.
"It's a long season. You see trends, cycles and you see outliers from time to time. [Peralta] made some mistakes. We didn't miss them," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "This place has been a little bit, I should say a lot, of a Rubik's Cube for us when we come in here and play. But we always turn the page on the last series. We look forward to the next one. We'll look forward to the game [today]."
Hurdle said before the game he started Alvarez at first base in an attempt to match "power with power" against Peralta, and it paid off.
Walker had drawn a two-out walk in the fourth inning, and Martin doubled off Peralta to put two on for Alvarez when he hit his first home run to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
Walker added an RBI double in the fifth before Martin went long off Peralta with two on to make it 7-2. Alvarez found the same spot in left field for his solo shot that made it 8-2.
Walker added two RBI singles in the sixth and eighth innings to make it 10-2.
In all, the Pirates had 12 hits in the win to bring the series total to 23.
While it had been 42 days since his last homer, it was only 66 at-bats between them for Alvarez. He said his approach has been to prepare as if he's getting the volume of at-bats he has enjoyed most of his career.
"You have no other choice. That's what you have to do," Alvarez said. "The at-bats you do get every once in a while you have to try to take advantage of and create that environment in your head where it feels like you're playing every day."
He also agreed the back-to-back home runs were a confidence builder.
"Anytime you can do something like that to help your team win a ballgame is huge and it feels good," Alvarez said. "It's not all result-oriented, so even if you go 0 for 4 with some good at-bats, you try to feed off that. When you can have two big hits like that, it feels good to go home."
The Pirates (67-62) now sit four games back from Milwaukee (71-58) in the division race after entering the weekend at six games back.
Pirates starter Edinson Volquez labored through 52/3 innings but got out of several jams on the way to his 11th win of the season.
Scooter Gennett hit a solo home run off Volquez to open the second inning, driving an 0-2 curveball into the second deck in right field.
Volquez hit the next batter, Khris Davis, and the inning nearly got away from there.
Lyle Overbay drove a single up the middle through the shift, and took second as Davis outran shortstop Jordy Mercer to an unoccupied third base.
With two runners in scoring position, Volquez got Elian Herrera to fly out, struck out Peralta and got Carlos Gomez to ground out to end the inning.
"I was able to throw a lot of good pitches with the bases loaded and men in scoring position," Volquez said.
"You've got to stay under control and execute pitches, and I did it."
Davis doubled in a run in the third after Volquez put two more on with back-to-back singles to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead.
Volquez got out of another jam in the fourth. He walked Peralta, then gave up a single to Gomez with Jonathan Lucroy due up.
Lucroy drove one to right field that Travis Snider played conservatively and Lucroy was aboard to load the bases. But Volquez jammed Ryan Braun into an infield popup and struck out Aramis Ramirez swinging.
Volquez yielded to Jared Hughes with two on and two out in the sixth. He gave up 11 hits, two earned runs, walked two and struck out three. He hit one batter and gave up one home run.
Jenn Menendez firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez.
Jenn Menendez email@example.com and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published August 23, 2014 10:34 PM