Ryan Braun leads Brewers to 8-7 victory over Bucs

Vincent Pugliese

Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run ninth-inning shot to give the Brewers the lead, as the Pirates lost 8-7.

The Brewers grabbed one run in the second inning, but Ike Davis, making his first plate appearance as a Pirate, doubled in the bottom of the inning and came home on Neil Walker's single.

Milwaukee took a 3-1 lead in the third on a double by Jean Segura, a single by Aramis Ramirez and a double by Jonathan Lucroy, then scored another in the fourth as Mark Reynolds homered on  Wandy Rodriguez's 88-MPH fastball. Rodriguez lasted just those four innings, departing after striking out three and walking one; it was the latest start in which he just didn't get it done.

In the bottom of the inning, though, the Pirates scored five on a series of walks and singles to make it 6-4, Bucs, with the entire team coming to the plate before Russell Martin finally grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The Brewers got one back off Bryan Morris in the fifth, but Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI double in the sixth to give the Pirates a 7-5 lead. Braun hit a solo homer off Tony Watson in the seventh to cut the lead to one, however, and it stayed that way until the ninth. Jason Grilli whiffed Carlos Gomez, but then allowed a single to Segura and threw a high fastball to Braun, who crushed it to center to give Milwaukee a one-run lead. Jose Tabata grounded into a double play in the bottom of the ninth to end it.

We're too early in the season to tell what's going on here, but the Pirates headed into this game fifth in the National League in runs scored. Their offense hasn't been the problem. Grilli and the Pirates' bullpen haven't seemed as reliable as they have been in years past, but that hasn't been the central issue, either. It's their rotation. Rodriguez has been awful, Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton haven't been as good as we've hoped, and even Gerrit Cole is off to a relatively slow start. A few weeks into the season, Edinson Volquez looks like the rotation's most reliable member. That may say more about how early it is, of course. I can't see any reason why Liriano and Cole, for example, shouldn't be fine in the long run, and Morton probably will be too.

But Rodriguez, in particular, is a serious concern. His fastball is slower than it's ever been, and he didn't have much velocity to begin with. After missing a big chunk of last season, it's possible he just needs some time. Let's hope so.

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