Russell Martin has played long enough to realize that games in early June are rarely pivotal.
Yet the Pirates' veteran catcher from Montreal admitted that Friday night's win felt good as Pittsburgh tries to stay with striking distance of the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.
Martin had three hits, including a three-run double during an eight-run sixth inning, and the Pirates rolled to a 15-5 victory over the Brewers, handing nemesis Kyle Lohse his first loss since April 1.
The Pirates still trail the Brewers by six games, primarily because they have gone 3-8 against Milwaukee this season. The win was Pittsburgh's sixth in its last eight games.
"Anytime in the season where you can just feed off each other like that, it's going to be a fun time," Martin said. "Especially against a team that we're trailing right now. If you can beat up on a good team, it definitely does give you confidence."
Martin's double keyed an inning that increased Pittsburgh's lead to 13-3 and included Jose Tabata hitting two RBI singles and reliever Tyler Thornburg issuing two bases-loaded walks. The Pirates sent 13 batters to the plate.
"We were able to barrel some balls and we took some walks," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The hits were nice, the walks were kind of runaway walks. Not many pitches were close in the walk sequence, it is what it is."
Lohse lit up
Lohse (7-2) had won seven consecutive decisions, the longest active streak in the major leagues, but was tagged for eight runs and nine hits in five-plus innings. He had won his last six decisions against the Pirates, dating to 2011, and pitched a three-hit shutout against the Chicago Cubs five days earlier.
"I could go inning by inning about everything that went wrong but it was just one of those games where they hit good pitches and they hit bad pitches," Lohse said. "The best thing to do is forget about it and get ready for the next one. That's the approach I took after I threw the shutout and that's the approach this time."
Rookie Brandon Cumpton (1-2) allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings after giving up 11 runs, the most by a major league pitcher this season, in 3 2/3 innings in losing his previous start at the Los Angeles Dodgers last Saturday.
"I really just put my head down and got back to work after that last start," Cumpton said. "I was just trusting my stuff and know it's going to be there. It was great to get out there and get back on the horse."
Andrew McCutchen homered and doubled for the Pirates while Jordy Mercer homered and hit an RBI single.
Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez and Scooter Gennett all had two hits for the Brewers.
McCutchen doubled in a run and scored on Martin's single in the first inning as the Pirates jumped on Lohse early. McCutchen's seventh homer, a solo shot in the third, made it 3-0.