Some may have been skeptical as this season continued to unfold. Two consecutive years of promising starts had been thwarted by collapse after epic collapse. Four consecutive failed attempts at win No. 82 in the heat of a playoff race perhaps perpetuated that train of thought. The 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates were not about to let that happen, as the team beat the Texas Rangers Monday night to officially end the franchise's record of 20 consecutive losing seasons.
The Pirates beat the Brewers on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 4-3, to seal their 81st victory of the season, which is a milestone of sorts. However, the mere possibility of a loss in a one-game playoff for a wild-card spot at season's end makes win No. 82 the mark that ends the historic stretch of futility.
Travis Snider hit a go-ahead, pinch-hit home run in the top of the ninth to give the Pirates a lead they wouldn't relinquish. He made it known to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the players are fully aware of the situation they face.
"I was fired up," Snider said. "We all know what is at stake."
After a sweep at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals, in which the Pirates' division lead evaporated, starting off a tough interleague series in Texas was of the utmost importance.
Heading into Monday's game, the Pirates' 12-5 interleague record was the best in the National League.
Yu Darvish (12-8) was dominant through seven innings of work, striking out six batters. The lone blemish on Darvish's line was the earned run he allowed in the seventh inning. The All-Star right-hander left with cramping in his right leg, as per Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Marlon Byrd doubled to left field and Pedro Alvarez followed up with an RBI double to give the Pirates a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
The Pirates threatened in the ninth when Andrew McCutchen tripled down the right field line, but he was gunned down at home later in the inning trying to score on a Justin Morneau infield grounder.
Pirates rookie Gerrit Cole (7-7) was masterful in his seven innings of work, striking out a career-high nine men. Cole yielded two walks and surrendered three hits as he showed off the tremendous breaking and offspeed pitches in his repertoire.
Mark Melancon closed out the game in the ninth to capture his 12th save.
With the Chicago Cubs shutting out the Cincinnati Reds and the Cardinals idle, the Pirates move to one game back in the division and create some separation between second and third place.
The Bucs will look to seize win No. 83 Tuesday night at 8:05 p.m. EDT. Francisco Liriano (15-7, 2.98 ERA) will take the mound against Martin Perez (9-3, 3.41).