MILWAUKEE - Toast them with a bottle of Iron City. Wear that 1970s-era Pittsburgh painter's cap with pride. Celebrate the end of "The Streak."
Just don't expect the Pirates to join in the fun. There's an NL Central title to win.
The Pirates ended their 20-year run of losing baseball Tuesday night, reaching the 81-win mark with a 4-3 victory at Miller Park.
"I've won 81 games before, and this team is going to win more than 81 games. A lot more," newly acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd said before Wednesday night's game at Milwaukee.
Win No. 82 will have to wait.
The Pirates lost 9-3 in game interrupted for a couple minutes in the fifth after Brewers starter Wily Peralta (9-14) plunked left-handed cleanup hitter Justin Morneau in the forearm following Andrew McCutchen's 19th homer of the year.
Morneau slowly walked to first and gestured to Peralta. The benches emptied and relievers scurried in from bullpens as far as short right and left, but the umpires quickly took control and the teams never got close to making any physical contact.
Still, the determined Pirates showed some spunk. "It's about changing the culture, and they've done that the past two years," Byrd said. "This was inevitable that this team was going to get to this point." Easy for him to say. He recently joined the club, obtained from the Mets in a deal to bolster the lineup for the playoff push.
Second baseman Neil Walker, on the other hand, is a little more passionate. He grew up in Pittsburgh and still lives in the Steel City.
Walker was bombarded with messages on his Twitter account Tuesday night. "To be part of this group that has righted the ship, per se, in the win column is pretty significant. I don't think anybody is going to admit that too much in here just because baseball players are so superstitious," Walker said. "But the fact that I've lived and breathed Pirates baseball since I can remember, being a baseball fan since I was 5 or 6 years old, it holds a little more significance to me."
Left-handed starter Francisco Liriano (15-7) gave up seven runs, seven hits and two wild pitches in three innings Wednesday. Trailing 7-3, the Pirates loaded the bases in the seventh to bring up the tying run with two outs, but reliever Donovan Hand got John Buck to fly out to right-center to end the inning.
Closer Jason Grilli, in his first appearance since July 22 after coming off the DL for a right forearm strain, allowed a hit and struck out two in the eighth.
The Pirates took a one-game lead over the Cardinals into a three-game series in St. Louis. Cincinnati was 3 3 1/2 games back after a 16-inning loss to the Cardinals on Wednesday night.
Pittsburgh is aiming to finish first and avoid a best-of-one matchup between wild cards.
No matter what, at least the Pirates don't have to answer any more questions about the drought.
In western Pennsylvania, "The Streak" made one segment of fans miserable. Others viewed the franchise like lovable losers, the "Bad News Bears" of sorts of the majors.
The Pirates went 20 years, 11 months and 26 days since they last had 81 wins in a season. More perspective on the two-decade run of misery since 1992: -The Pirates were 1,374-1,796 during the streak for a .437 winning percentage. -The Penguins and Steelers had seven losing seasons combined during that period. -The franchise went through three ownership groups and seven managers, including current skipper Clint Hurdle.
Hurdle said he was humbled by all the messages that he had received. "And they're not from my buddies. They're actually from people that we've come to know in the North Hills (suburbs) and the city of Pittsburgh that have reached out," he said. "The emails and texts are quite meaningful." After the win, Hurdle said he was especially happy for the family of Roberto Clemente, the late Hall of Famer who wore No. 21.
"They told me earlier in the season that we can't have 21 losing seasons, that we've got to find a way to not have Roberto's number tied to that," Hurdle said. "I told them we'd find a way to take care of that. It's been taken care of."
The Pirates seemed loose before Wednesday's game, but there were no cases of champagne waiting on ice. No trophy in another room waiting to be presented in a pregame ceremony.
Outfielder Travis Snider, whose pinch-hit homer in the ninth led to Tuesday's win, talked fantasy football. Others watched the ever-present baseball highlights on the big-screen TVs.
Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates' MVP candidate, put it best. He posted a simple message on his Twitter account shortly after the Pirates got win No. 81. "Keep going ..."
TOMAHAWK - Car enthusiasts flocked to Tomahawk Sunday for the Main Street Memories car show.
The 22nd annual car show attracted cars and visitors from all over.
The streets of Tomahawk were filled with more than 200 cars of all different kinds. Main Street Memories car show is a Memorial Day tradition.
"You know 22 years going strong, and we're proud of it," said Tomahawk Main Street director Christine Vorpagel. "Tomahawk Main Street, we're all about historic preservation and sustainable development."
For many spectators, car shows are another way of learning about American history.
MARATHON COUNTY - Firefighters call a Town of Berlin house a total loss after a fire destroyed it early Sunday morning.
According to the Marathon County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, crews got a call around 1:40 a.m. to the 11,000 block of Naugart Drive. When they got there, the house was totally up in flames.Several surrounding fire departments were called in to help.
No one was hurt. The house is valued at more than $100,000.
Investigators don't think the cause of the fire was anything suspicious, but they are still investigating.
CONOVER - The rain fortunately stayed away in Conover for a part of Sunday afternoon just in time for the grand opening of the Conover-Phelps bike trail.
The project has been years in the making, and now it's ready to ride. A couple hundred people and local leaders came out in support of it.
"There's a real feel for people being enthusiastic about this," said Jeff Currie, the President of Great Headwaters Trails, which helped lead the bike trail project.
It's supposed to connect Conover to Phelps through nearly 11 miles of paved trail. The first part is open and goes from Conover Community Park to Muskrat Creek Road.
"3.2 miles on the ground and ready to be ridden on biked or hiked," said Brian Blank, the chairman of the Conover-Phelps Trail Capital Campaign.
"When people hear about a town and then when people say, have you seen their bike trail, it's just, right away it's like there's more to that town than I thought there was," Currie said.
While not yet complete, project leaders are hopeful the trail will be finished soon. Project leaders say the second part of the trail, about five miles long, is fully engineered but about 60 percent funded.
"We're about $200,000 away from completing the remaining five miles," Blank said.
"You know that funding could come, and when it does, five miles of trail in two or three months will be on the ground," Currie said.
"I have no doubt in the next couple years this trail will be completed all the way to Phelps," said Gary Meister, the vice president of Great Headwaters Trails.
The trail is non-motorized so, no ATVs allowed, but it will be a snowmobile trail in the winter.
MARINETTE COUNTY - A 90-year-old man died in an ATV crash in Marinette County late Saturday afternoon.
According to the Marinette County Sheriff's Office, it happened private property north of Newton Lake in the Town of Athelstane.
90-year-old James Bosanny was driving the ATV with his 64-year-old son, James Bosanny, Jr., on board. He lost control on a small hill after hitting a plow before the ATV accelerated and hit a tree. They both were thrown off the ATV. The 90-year-old died at the scene.Crews took the son first to Bay Area Medical Center in Marinette and then later taken to a hospital in Green Bay for serious injuries.
The sheriff's office says neither was wearing a helmet. Police don't think alcohol or speed played a part in the crash.
Crews are still investigating. James Bosanny, Sr., was from Monroe, Wisconsin, and his son, James Bosanny, Jr., was from Hortonville, Wisconsin.
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