By Will Graves
Marlon Byrd celebrated his arrival in Pittsburgh with a three-run homer, and the Pirates beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-1 on Wednesday night.
Byrd, acquired along with catcher John Buck from the New York Mets on Tuesday, hit his 22nd homer of the season into the bushes in center field in the seventh inning as Pittsburgh ended a three-game losing streak.
Josh Harrison went 3 for 4 with an RBI for the Pirates and Andrew McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez added two hits apiece.
Charlie Morton (6-3) scattered five hits over 6 2-3 innings, walking three and striking out two to pick up his first career victory over the Brewers.
Milwaukee starter Tom Gorzelanny (3-6) yielded four runs on nine hits in 5 1-3 innings, walking one and striking out five. Carlos Gomez had two of Milwaukee’s seven hits.
The Pirates brought in Buck and Byrd on Tuesday, hoping the two veterans could give the team’s lethargic offense a lift as Pittsburgh closes in on the franchise’s first winning season in 21 years.
Manager Clint Hurdle wasted little time throwing Byrd into the mix, batting him fourth barely a day removed from the trade that sent the well-traveled outfielder to his seventh major league team.
The 35-year-old didn’t take long to make an impression. He lined into a double play in the first inning after smashing a Gorzelanny fastball right back to the pitcher. He then drew a standing ovation for striking out his next time up following an entertaining 14-pitch battle with Gorzelanny that lasted more than five minutes.
The Pirates already led 4-1 when Byrd stepped into the batter’s box against Milwaukee reliever Burke Badenhop with runners on the corners. Byrd took the first pitch he saw from Badenhop and knocked it into the ‘S’ in Pirates in the bushes just behind the wall in center.
Byrd, still searching for his first trip to the playoffs, hopped out of the dugout for a brief curtain call while getting his second ovation in an hour.
The homer was more celebratory than critical after Morton handcuffed the Brewers to end years of futility against Pittsburgh’s biggest nemesis. Milwaukee has won more than 70 percent of its games against Pittsburgh since 2007 and came in 4-0 against Morton.
The right-hander, still finding his way back from Tommy John surgery, dominated after some early trouble. The Brewers put four runners on base in the first inning but couldn’t score and Morton took care of matters from there. He retired nine straight at one point.
The only miscue came in the seventh when catcher Russell Martin tried to pick off Yuniesky Betancourt off first. The ball sailed into right field, allowing Scooter Gennett to score.
Byrd’s long ball restored order and the Pirates exhaled while clinching the season series against the Brewers for the first time since 2006.
NOTES: Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez continues to deal with left forearm inflammation but will not require surgery. Rodriguez, who has been on the disabled list since May, was evaluated by Dr. James Andrews in Florida on Tuesday after experiencing discomfort during a throwing session. Rodriguez will resume throwing later this week ... Brewers prospect Johnny Hellweg was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year. Hellweg is 11-5 with a 3.16 ERA for Triple-A Nashville. The right-hander, who is 0-3 with a 10.97 in three starts with Milwaukee this season, will be recalled to the majors next month ... The series concludes on Thursday when Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole 6-6, 3.81 ERA) faces Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo (9-9, 4.61).