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 PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Pirates are primed for another pennant race.
The Pirates begin the second half of the season on Friday trailing front-running Milwaukee by 3 1/2 games in the jam-packed NL Central. Pittsburgh wrapped up the first half by stumbling through a 2-5 road trip through St. Louis and Cincinnati as the bullpen struggled.
Still, second baseman Neil Walker says the Pirates are encouraged as they try to earn a second straight playoff berth.
Pittsburgh slumped through the first six weeks of the season, but has rallied over the past two months despite significant injuries to starting pitchers Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole and catcher Russell Martin.
Liriano is just 1-7 in 2014 after winning 16 games last year. but will get the start on Friday when the Pirates host Colorado.

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