Offense starts to ignite


MILWAUKEE — The Pirates are starting to hit again. Andy LaRoche has been hot since returning from a back injury, going 12 for 18 over the past four games. LaRoche goes into today’s game batting .400 and has reached back safely in all but two of the 13 games in which he’s played.

Last night, Jeff Clement came up a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. (And after watching him chug into second base for his sixth-inning double, I think it’ll be like seeing a unicorn if Clement ever gets a three-bagger.) It was Clement’s first three-hit game since Aug. 18, 2008. He’s hit safely in five of his past six starts and has homered twice in the past three games.

How about Ryan Doumit? His ninth-inning grand slam last night off Trevor Hoffman was the second of his career. Doumit, who’s not in the lineup today, is riding a seven-game hitting streak, during which he’s batting at a .435 clip (10 for 23).

Doumit’s slam keyed the Pirates’ first five-run ninth inning since April 11, 2009, against Cincinnati. Coincidentally, Doumit also whacked a grand slam in that game off Mike Lincoln.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Pirates (8-12) — 1. Aki Iwamura 2b, 2. Andy LaRoche 3b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Lastings Milledge lf, 6. Jeff Clement, 7. Jason Jaramillo c, 8. Paul Maholm (1-2, 4.74) lhp, 9. Ronny Cedeno ss

Brewers (9-11) — 1. Rickie Weeks 2b, 2. Carlos Gomez cf, 3. Ryan Braun lf,4. Prince Fielder 1b, 5. Casey McGehee 3b, 6. Greg Zaun c, 7. Corey Hart rf, 8. Alcides Escobar ss, 9. Chris Narveson (1-0, 7.20) lhp