- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 4, 2013

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Toast them with a bottle of Iron City. Wear that 1970s-era Pittsburgh painter’s cap with pride. Celebrate the end of “The Streak.”

Just don’t expect the Pirates to join in the fun. There’s an NL Central title to win.

The Pirates ended their 20-year run of losing baseball Tuesday night, reaching the 81-win mark with a 4-3 victory at Miller Park.

“I’ve won 81 games before, and this team is going to win more than 81 games. A lot more,” newly acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd said before Wednesday night’s game at Milwaukee.

“It’s about changing the culture, and they’ve done that the past two years,” he said. “This was inevitable that this team was going to get to this point.”

Easy for him to say. He recently joined the club, obtained from the Mets in a deal to bolster the lineup for the playoff push.

Second baseman Neil Walker, on the other hand, is a little more passionate. He grew up in Pittsburgh and still lives in the Steel City.

Walker was bombarded with messages on his Twitter account Tuesday night.

“To be part of this group that has righted the ship, per se, in the win column is pretty significant. I don’t think anybody is going to admit that too much in here just because baseball players are so superstitious,” Walker said.

“But the fact that I’ve lived and breathed Pirates baseball since I can remember, being a baseball fan since I was 5 or 6 years old, it holds a little more significance to me.”

Their latest win gave the Pirates a two-game division lead over St. Louis, and Cincinnati is 3 1/2 back. Pittsburgh is aiming to finish first and avoid a best-of-one matchup between wild cards.

No matter what, at least the Pirates don’t have to answer any more questions about the drought.

In western Pennsylvania, “The Streak” made one segment of fans miserable. Others viewed the franchise like lovable losers, the “Bad News Bears” of sorts of the majors.

The Pirates went 20 years, 11 months and 26 days since they last had 81 wins in a season.

More perspective on the two-decade run of misery since 1992:

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