PITTSBURGH – Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Denorfia homered, Wade LeBlanc won for the first time in six weeks and the first- place San Diego Padres finished off its only series sweep in Pittsburgh since 1998, beating the last-place Pirates 6-3 on Sunday.
The Padres have won all 10 series in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened in 2001, but hadn't swept one there before outscoring the Pirates 20-8 in the three weekend games. San Diego swept a two-game series in now-demolished Three Rivers Stadium 12 years ago but hasn't swept a series of at least three games since winning four in a row Aug. 8-11, 1996.
An infrequent big inning by a team that relies mostly on situational hitting, a strong starting staff and an even better bullpen decided this one as the Padres (58-39) won their eighth in 10 games to improve to 19 games over .500 for the first time this season.
Gonzalez's two-run homer, his 21st, highlighted a five-run third inning against Pirates rookie Brad Lincoln (1-4), who has a 9.61 ERA this month and is in danger of being sent back to Triple-A.
Denorfia, who drove in three runs, chased Lincoln with a solo homer in the seventh, the Padres' second homer in four innings after they won the first two games of the series — 5-3 on Friday and 9-2 on Saturday — without homering.
No doubt LeBlanc (5-8) welcomed the support. The Padres scored an average of only 1.72 runs for him as he went winless 0-4 in six starts since beating Seattle 7-1 on June 12, and the average of 3.10 runs of support he received in his first 17 starts was the NL's third lowest.
After LeBlanc was lifted with a 6-3 lead, the Pirates did nothing against San Diego's NL-best bullpen for the third game in a row. Ryan Webb, Luke Gregerson and Heath Bell each pitched a hitless inning, with Bell finishing up in the ninth for his 29th save in 32 chances.
The Pirates managed only one hit in nine innings against Padres relievers during the series, striking out 12 times.
Lincoln lasted only 2 1-3 innings despite being given a 9-0 lead Tuesday against Milwaukee, and this time the right-hander couldn't hold onto a 2-0 lead created by Ronny Cedeno's two-run homer in the second, his fifth of the season. He shaved off his beard following the Brewers game, but even a clean-shaven Lincoln was only marginally better.
LeBlanc, who had two hits, got the five-run third started with a single, and Denorfia followed Jerry Hairston Jr.'s single with a two-run double. Gonzalez then homered into the right-field seats, and Will Venable's RBI single made it 5-2 two batters later.
Lincoln, a former first-round draft pick, gave up six runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings, the sixth time in his nine major league starts he has allowed five runs or more.
NOTES: Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen returned after missing six games with a sore shoulder. He went 1 for 4. ... The Pirates went 4-6 on a 10-game homestand. ... Pittsburgh is 7-13 in July after going 6-20 in June. ... Padres C Yorvit Torrealba doubled while reaching base four times to run his hitting streak to 10 games (15 for 36 .417), the longest by a San Diego player this season. ... San Diego is 23-9 in PNC Park. ... Pirates starting pitchers are 18-53.