If there was a formula for a team like the Pirates to beat Felix Hernandez, I suppose that it would to be try and score a run or two with Felix on the mound, get a good start of your own, and turn it over to a bullpen battle. And so Neil Walker hit a two-run homer to off-set Hernandez's 11 strikeouts, Jeanmar Gomez's return looked a lot like pre-injury Gomez with five solid innings, and even thought Justin Wilson served up a home run to Raul Ibanez to tie the game at two in the sixth, the Pirates never trailed.
On this afternoon, it was Jordy Mercer that came up with the big hit, singling off of Yoervis Medina to drive Pedro Alvarez home after Pedro Alvarez opened up the ninth inning with a single off of lefty reliever Charlie Furbush. And … that's it, pretty much. Neil Walker home run, nice Jeanmar Gomez start, some very solid work from Vin Mazzaro after Wilson gave up the game-tying home run, some timely hitting, an easy Mark Melancon save (Jason Grilli was apparently unavaiable after his arduous outing on Sunday, which I won't complain about), and the Pirates are 48-30.
As I type this, the Astros are beating the Cardinals. It's close (5-4) and it's still early (the sixth inning, with a Cardinal on second base), but if it holds up, the Pirates will be tied with the Cardinals for the best record in baseball.