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Marte ends power outage, extends Bucs' streak

PITTSBURGH -- To Starling Marte, it felt like a month since his last home run. In reality, the drought was more than a month-and-a-half long. A total of 118 at-bats passed by since he went deep on July 1, but at-bat No. 119 provided what Marte and Pirates fans alike have been looking for.

In the early stages of a marathon 15-inning affair, Marte deposited a go-ahead solo shot into the PNC Park bullpen, helping the Pirates to an eventual 9-8 win over the D-backs on Tuesday night.

After 33 games without a long ball, the outfielder said he wasn't necessarily thinking about putting one over the fence.

"I was thinking about hitting the ball," Marte said. "If you hit the ball, it can go anywhere."

Statistically, Marte's drive not only helps his own cause -- prior to the shot he had just one homer in his previous 196 at-bats -- but it also continued a Pirates streak. Pittsburgh has now homered in a season-high 12 consecutive games, its longest streak since 1994.

While the game dragged on for another 12 innings after the homer, Marte gave the Pirates their first lead at 4-3. More importantly, it carried weight from a psychological perspective.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said before Tuesday's game that, in general, home runs -- or a lack thereof -- aren't something his club worries about. But Marte admitted that he was struggling a bit, as the 26-year-old carried a .356 slugging percentage in August entering the contest.

"Sometimes you lose focus on something and you forget what you can do," Marte said.

Hurdle also said that home runs come and go in cycles.

On Tuesday night, Marte ended one cycle -- and perhaps began another.

John McGonigal is an associate reporter for
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