Pirates

Five games out of first, Pirates hoping for breakthrough in divisional stretch

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Josh Harrison is batting .315 in his last 50 games. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Jordy Mercer acknowledged how difficult the past six months have been for the Pirates.

They're playing without Jung Ho Kang and Starling Marte, the offense was a weakness until late May, Jameson Taillon was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and they can't seem to have a night where both the pitching and hitting are excelling.

Yet, the Pirates sat just five games behind the Central Division-leading Brewers entering Friday night's game at PNC Park against the Cubs, despite being six games under .500.

Mercer said it has everything to do with how they've handled those adverse situations, and that will have to continue during a key stretch of 10 consecutive division games.

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