Pirates put up nine-spot in first inning
Alvarez grand slam first of two homers for third baseman
PITTSBURGH -- The last time the Pirates put on a first-inning performance like the one on Tuesday, manager John Russell was a 28-year-old catcher for the Atlanta Braves.
That was June 8, 1989, when the Jim Leyland-managed Bucs put up 10 runs to open their game at Philadelphia, one they would eventually lose, 15-11.
Russell wasn't around to see the finish of his Pirates' 11-9 win over the Brewers on Tuesday at PNC Park after being ejected in the seventh inning, but the skipper certainly took notice of his young team's nine-run outburst in the first inning.
The Pirates took a commanding lead early and had to hang on for the win. Pittsburgh had not scored nine runs in any inning since facing the Rockies on May 17, 2009, when it scored 10 in the seventh.
It was also the first time the Brewers had allowed nine runs in the first inning. They had given up eight twice previously.
"We got a talented bunch of guys, we've talked about it when we called them up, that they would have a lot of talent," Russell said. "They're going to go through some tough times. They're also going to have a lot of fun and do some pretty good things. Just look at what we have here now. They're young, but they're very talented players and they're able to do very good things, and it gets a little contagious."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Pirates had not scored nine runs in the first inning of a home game since Aug. 8, 1893, against the Chicago Colts. The most runs they ever scored at home in the first was 12 against the St. Louis Browns on April 22, 1892.
Pedro Alvarez's first career grand slam, the Pirates' second of the season, highlighted the opening frame off Milwaukee's Dave Bush. Ryan Doumit has the club's only other grand slam this season at Milwaukee on April 27.
Alvarez added a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the second -- his first career two-homer game. His two homers and five RBIs give him five and 17, respectively, through 29 career games.
On the slam, Alvarez lifted a 2-2 curveball from Bush over the Clemente Wall in right, putting the Pirates up 4-0 early. The ensuing five runs in the frame were unearned.
"I always want to be in a situation where I'm needed and be in a situation where it's important," Alvarez said. "I want to be that guy that when we need someone to step up, steps up. Every situation is a learning experience. Hopefully it keeps getting better."
The seven-hit, 41-pitch frame featured 13 Pirates batters and three Brewers errors, including two from third baseman Casey McGehee, who bobbled consecutive groundballs from Erik Kratz and Ronny Cedeno -- the former's resulting in another Pirates run to make it 5-0.
Every Pirates batter reached base safely at least once in the inning with the exception of pitcher Brad Lincoln, who laid down a sacrifice bunt. Delwyn Young and Neil Walker each had one single, one double, one run and one RBI apiece in the frame.
"I'd say it was like running in a 100-meter dash and then running in a marathon pretty much," Walker said with a chuckle. "It was. The first inning was awesome. Certainly nobody wanted to make the last out. Hitting gets contagious, and we certainly showed that today in the first inning.
"This is something we're capable of. We're capable of going out there and scoring some runs. We did that in the first inning. I wish we could have added on about six more, but that wasn't the case."
Matt Fortuna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.