Pedro Alvarez scored the first of four Pirates' runs in the victory. Photo credit: David Hague

The Pittsburgh Pirates getting out to a 10-8 record to start 2013 would be far less impressive if half of those games were against, say, the Marlins, Padres and Astros. Strength of schedule plays a larger part in early-season stats and records than many of us want to recognize. Yes, the Texas Rangers are 12-6, but they have played 12 games against the Mariners, Cubs and Astros.

So the Pirates capping off a 7-2 homestand is made even more impressive by the fact that they did it against three of the NL's best teams. They swept the Cincinnati Reds, split a two-gamer with the St. Louis Cardinals (and went up 4-2 on them Tuesday before the rain washed it away) and took three of four from the Atl...

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