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Melancon credits Bucs for record-tying save

Closer equals Williams' club mark of 46 set in 2002, relishes chance to do so in pennant race

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates closer Mark Melancon will readily admit that saves are mostly a team statistic. But that doesn't make the season he's putting together any less meaningful. In fact, it may be just the opposite.

In Game 1 of the Pirates' doubleheader against the Cubs on Tuesday, Melancon tied the franchise's single-season saves record, notching his Major League-leading 46th of the season with a scoreless ninth inning and securing a 5-4 win.

That save pulled Melancon even with Mike Williams, who logged 46 saves in 2002. With his next save, Melancon will sit alone atop the Pirates' record books.

"It's awesome. Anytime you're a part of a club's history is really cool, but I feel like this club has such a rich history -- it's special," Melancon said. "But it's taken the whole team for me to get there. It's not just me, so I don't want to take it like that. Very cool."

Melancon understands that a lot of factors have to fall into place for him to pile up saves the way he has this season. But he has done his part on a remarkably dependable basis throughout the year.

He's blown only two saves all season, carrying a 2.00 ERA into Wednesday night's game -- and a 1.32 mark since a pair of three-run outings in April.

"That's something I strive to really do in everything in my life, is just be consistent," Melancon said.

Doing so for a winning team has made the milestone even more significant for Melancon. When Williams saved 46 games in 2002, the Pirates finished the year 72-89. But Melancon has been closing out games for a team in the midst of a pennant race, with an eye on finishing games in October.

"I can't say it's a lot more meaningful, but it's exciting. Anytime you're on a winning team, it's fun," Melancon said. "It's a good thing. You don't stand out because of your achievements. It's a team effort. Winning takes precedence."

Around the horn
• The West Virginia Black Bears, the Pirates' short-season Class A affiliate, captured the New York-Penn League championship on Tuesday night. Outfielder Casey Hughston, the Pirates' third-round Draft pick this year, delivered a two-run homer in the ninth as the Black Bears won, 3-1.

• Triple-A Indianapolis lost Game 1 of the Governors' Cup, 6-5, to Columbus on Tuesday night.

• Informed that Rangers manager (and former Pirates bench coach) Jeff Banister was sitting in first place in the American League West as of Wednesday afternoon, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle responded, "Good for him. I'm proud of him."

The Rangers are the only other team Hurdle follows closely, given his personal connections -- he was their hitting coach in 2010 -- and his relationship with Banister.

"They're in a very good place," Hurdle said. "They've had a very competitive season."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.
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