Pirates shoot for fourth consecutive win in middle tilt with Marlins

The Pittsburgh Pirates are showing no signs of a second- half fade that has plagued them over the last two seasons.

The NL Central leaders aim for a fourth straight victory on Wednesday night when they continue a three-game series with the Miami Marlins.

Seeking their first playoff berth and winning season since 1992, the Pirates own a two-game edge over the St. Louis Cardinals for the top spot in the division and are a season-best 24 games over .500 at 68-44 after Tuesday night's win over the Marlins.

Josh Harrison hit a pinch-hit homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning for a 4-3 win, taking Marlins reliever Mike Dunn deep after the hurler had worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the eighth.

"I knew it had a chance. I thought it wouldn't be caught off the bat," Harrison said. I was watching (Marlins outfielder Giancarlo) Stanton's reaction. When he pulled up and the ball didn't kick back, I knew it was gone."

Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run double and Pedro Alvarez added a run-scoring triple for the Pirates, who are 7-2 on an 11-game homestand.

"There are a bunch of little things that happen which make you think something's going on," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

Logan Morrison and Donovan Solano knocked in a run apiece for the Marlins, who dropped their third straight game after stranding 11 men on base and were 3- for-14 with runners in scoring position.

"We just couldn't get that hit to give us some breathing room," lamented Marlins manager Mike Redmond. "When you're on the road, momentum can turn in a heartbeat. When you get a chance to add runs, you have to take it."

Tom Koehler takes the mound tonight for the Marlins and will face the Pirates for the second time in his career. The right-hander has given up three runs or fewer in five of his past six starts, going 3-1 with a 3.18 earned run average in that span.

The lone setback in that span came versus Pittsburgh on July 27 as he was reached for five runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out six in five innings of work. All five runs allowed came in the first three innings of that game, with Pittsburgh's Garrett Jones and Michael McKenry both having a pair of run-scoring hits off him.

The right-hander rebounded to beat the New York Mets on Thursday, hurling six scoreless frames despite allowing five hits and five walks.

"It was a battle for him too. He pitched out of quite a few jams," Redmond said of Koehler, who is 3-6 with a 4.34 ERA in 19 outings (13 starts) this season.

Charlie Morton makes his 10th start of the season for the Pirates and second versus the Miami Marlins.

In returning from 2012 Tommy John surgery, Morton is 3-3 with a 4.07 ERA in nine outings this year and that includes a win over the Marlines on July 27. He was charged with four runs -- three earned -- over five innings, yielding nine hits but no walks. The righty did nearly give back an early 5-1 lead after the Marlins scored three times in the bottom of the third.

Still, Morton held on for his second straight win before getting pounded by St. Louis on Thursday. The 29-year-old was tagged for five runs on 10 hits and a walk in six innings of that contest.

In seven career starts versus the Marlins, Morton is 3-3 with a 5.11 ERA.

The Pirates swept the Marlins in three games the last time the clubs played in Pittsburgh, from July 20-22 in 2012.