The Pirates scored both the tying and winning runs on pitcher to shortstop fielder’s choices and Felipe Vazquez pitched two dominant innings to nail down the win as Pittsburgh came from behind for a 3-2 win at Milwaukee.
With both starting pitchers owning ERAs among the five worst in the majors and the Pirates coming off back-to-back blowouts in Houston, it was easy to imagine a slug fest in Miller Park, and the script looked to be playing out in the bottom of the first when Chris Archer surrendered a walk and a pair of doubles to the Brewers.
Already down 2-0, Pirates fans remained hopeful as Brewers’ starter Jhoulys hadn’t completed five innings in any of his previous three starts, surrendering fourteen runs in twelve innings - but suddenly, the team that slammed ball after ball over the fence in Houston was tapping out meekly.
Kevin Newman did drive one 402 feet to left center for his fifth homer, his third straight game with a long ball and eighteenth straight with a hit.
Huh...Ok. Let's take a gander at @OfficialKBN's All-Star creds...— Pirates (@Pirates) June 29, 2019
✅ Hitting .335
✅ Third straight game with a dinger
✅ 18-game hitting streak (longest active in MLB)
✅ Hitting .392 during his streak#LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/hayIHf4lV0
With two outs and no one on in the fourth, Corey Dickerson walked, went to third on Adam Frazier’s ground single to right, and drew a throw that allowed Frazier to reach second - but with the pitcher in the hole, that only invited an intentional walk to the number eight hitting Jacob Stallings. Up with the bases loaded and down a run, Archer struck out swinging to end the inning but also appeared to hurt himself on the strike two swing.
Archer had settled down, throwing just 37 pitches in the second, third and fourth after a 30 pitch first, but having completed the fourth Pirates’ manager informed the umpire that Archer was leaving the game with an injury.
In his four innings, Archer allowed those two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out six.
Rich Rodriguez, Francisco Liriano and Kyle Crick then proceeded to all all post zeroes on the scoreboard.
Junior Guerra came on to pitch the top of the eighth for the Brewers, but Bryan Reynolds worked an 0-2 count into a walk then went to third when Starling Marte then slashed a 2-2 pitch into right field for a single. With runners on the corner and nobody out, Josh Bell, owner of 22 home runs and leading the major leagues in runs batted in, topped a slow chopper to the mound. Guerra bounced a throw to second which shortstop Tyler Saladino made a fine scoop on and Bell just barely beat the realy to first, avoiding the double play. But safe or out at first, Reynolds scored the tying run from third base.
With that tie game on the road, Hurdle called on the well rested Felipe Vazquez, who quickly dispatched the top of the Brewers order, making them look silly as three times they waved at the third strike.
The top of the ninth was deja vu all over again, as with one out Elias Diaz drew a walk from Jeremy Jeffress and raced to third on Jose Osuna’s single lined to right center. With runners again at the corners, the speedy Newman tapped a ball back to the pitcher Jeffress who instead of focusing on the lead run at third went for a double play, with Saladino again having to scoop a bounced throw as a run crossed the plate.
Then owning a lead, Vazquez got a pair of ground outs around a called third strike to close it out for the win.
The stumbling Brewers have now lost ten of their last fourteen games and although still in second place behind the Cubs find themselves only three games ahead of the Pirates, who have won three in a row, six of their last seven and eight of their last eleven.
Game two of the series will be at 8:15 p.m. Eastern on Saturday night. Jordan Lyles (5-3, 3.64) returns from the injured list for the Pirates, facing the Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff (9-2, 4.01)