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Taillon fans career-high 10 as Bucs wreck Crew

Mercer racks up 4 RBIs on 3 hits; Vazquez stifles 9th-inning rally
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- On Thursday night, Jameson Taillon walked off the mound the way he wanted.

Five days after a strong start with a frustrating finish, Taillon overpowered the first-place Brewers with a career-high 10 strikeouts in the Pirates' 6-3 win at PNC Park. Shortstop Jordy Mercer provided most of the offensive production, going 3-for-4 with a career-high-tying four RBIs, and All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez stifled a bases-loaded jam in the ninth as Pittsburgh won for the fourth time in five games.

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PITTSBURGH -- On Thursday night, Jameson Taillon walked off the mound the way he wanted.

Five days after a strong start with a frustrating finish, Taillon overpowered the first-place Brewers with a career-high 10 strikeouts in the Pirates' 6-3 win at PNC Park. Shortstop Jordy Mercer provided most of the offensive production, going 3-for-4 with a career-high-tying four RBIs, and All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez stifled a bases-loaded jam in the ninth as Pittsburgh won for the fourth time in five games.

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Video: MIL@PIT: Mercer tallies 3 hits, 4 RBIs in 6-3 win

"You don't want to live and die by the strikeout, but whenever you need it, you definitely want to be able to get it," Taillon said. "I felt like I got some pretty big ones in big spots."

He got three in one big spot in the fifth inning. The Brewers backed Taillon into a corner, putting runners on first and third with nobody out in a one-run game, but the right-hander fought his way out of the inning.

First, Taillon struck out opposing starter Wade Miley on three pitches. Up came Eric Thames, who whiffed on a curveball and a 96.3-mph fastball before taking another curveball for a called third strike. Lorenzo Cain then worked the count full, but Taillon got him to miss on a 90.1-mph slider at the bottom of the strike zone.

Video: MIL@PIT: Pirates talk 6-3 victory over Brewers

Typically stoic on the mound, Taillon turned around, pumped his right first and shouted into his glove before walking back to the dugout.

"I was mad to be there, but you can't really dwell on it," Taillon said. "When you're in a bad spot like that, you just focus on the next pitch. I was fired up."

Taillon finished the fifth with his pitch count at 77, same as it was on Saturday when manager Clint Hurdle pulled him after 6 2/3 innings. But Taillon put that outing behind him, forgetting the ending and instead focusing on what allowed him to breeze into the seventh inning. So he returned to complete the sixth, working around a leadoff walk and a loud flyout by Jesus Aguilar.

Video: MIL@PIT: Taillon K's Cain to strike out the side

Taillon used his entire repertoire against the Brewers, but he went to his curveball often and effectively. Of his 96 pitches, 33 were curveballs; Milwaukee whiffed on six of them and took eight for strikes. He finished six of his strikeouts with curveballs, three with fastballs and his final one with a slider.

"Just goes to show you what kind of stuff he can bring to the table on any given night," Hurdle said.

The Pirates broke the game open in the sixth. Josh Bell led off the inning with the second of his three walks, and Josh Harrison -- who finished 2-for-2 with an RBI double and a season-high-tying two walks -- hit a single to center. That brought up Mercer, who delivered a two-run single to center off reliever Adrian Houser, his third run-scoring hit of the night.

Video: MIL@PIT: Bell on strong start, Taillon's great outing

Bell and Harrison were batting sixth and seventh, respectively, in front of Mercer. Harrison was the Pirates' primary leadoff man before an extended slump knocked him down in the order, while Bell was Pittsburgh's cleanup hitter until early June. Both are working their way through struggles at the plate, but they made Mercer's four-RBI night possible.

"Those guys get all the credit. It seemed like we got some rallies going with two outs there," said Mercer, whose first two RBIs came with two outs. "It's good to have those guys getting it going. Just helping the team out, winning as many games as we can."

Video: MIL@PIT: Marte goes the other way for RBI single

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Close save: Hurdle brought in right-hander Tyler Glasnow with a double-switch in the eighth inning with the idea that Glasnow would pitch the final two innings. Glasnow got through the eighth, but it took 22 pitches. With four games over the next three days, Hurdle didn't want to lose Glasnow for the next day or two, so he called on reliever Michael Feliz in the ninth.

Three straight Brewers reached safely with one out, and Thames made it a four-run game with a single to right. Feliz then walked Cain, loading the bases. Hurdle had to bring in Vazquez, who gave up an RBI single to Christian Yelich. Up came Aguilar, who homered off Taillon in the fourth. Vazquez threw Aguilar a first-pitch changeup, and the slugger hit into a game-ending, around-the-horn double play.

Video: MIL@PIT: Vazquez stymies comeback with DP to end game

"Things didn't work out the way we wanted, but we won a ballgame," Hurdle said. "That's what we wanted."

HE SAID IT
"I had it in the back of my head that, in Milwaukee, [Cain] had a couple hits off my curveball. Not to say I'm never going to throw it to him -- I got to two strikes by throwing it -- but he had two-strike hits off my curveball. And pitchers have a good memory."--Taillon, on striking out Cain with a slider to end the fifth inning

"I'd say it's just like riding a bike, but I can't ride a bike, so it took me a little longer than expected."-- Harrison, on the adjustment -- returning to an open stance -- that got him back on track

Video: MIL@PIT: Harrison cracks an RBI double to the gap

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With one out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Yelich hit a ball down the left-field line that was initially ruled fair by third-base umpire Paul Nauert before he changed the call to a foul ball seconds later. The Brewers challenged the call, but replays confirmed the ball landed in foul territory.

Video: MIL@PIT: Yelich's foul ball confirmed after review

UP NEXT
Right-hander Nick Kingham will start on Friday as the Pirates continue their five-game series against the NL Central-leading Brewers at PNC Park. Kingham bounced back from a rough outing with a win on Sunday, allowing only one run over six innings against the Phillies. Right-hander Junior Guerra is scheduled to start for Milwaukee. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Jordy Mercer, Jameson Taillon, Felipe Vazquez