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Bucs use long ball to beat Brewers

Perez homers three times; Suwinski and Cruz also go deep in 8-7 win

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates used power from two expected sources – and a completely unexpected one — to claim an 8-7 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday night at PNC Park.

Light-hitting Michael Perez became the first Pirates catcher in the history of the franchise to hit three home runs in a game, and rookies Oneil Cruz and Jack Suwinski also went deep to help make a winner of Pirates starter JT Brubaker.

It was the second time in two days and the third time in 11 days that a Pirate had hit three homers in a game, as Bryan Reynolds did it Wednesday and Suwinski did it June 19.

Cruz’s homer was his second of the year while the surprising Suwinski upped his home run total to 13 on the season.

Perez, meanwhile, entered the game with three homers and six RBIs and was hitting just .129 with a .178 on-base percentage and a .235 slugging mark in 85 at-bats.

The win did not come easy. The Pirates took an 8-4 lead into the ninth inning for closer David Bednar, but the Brewers nicked him for three runs before manager Derek Shelton pulled the burly right-hander with two outs and runners at first and second in favor of Yerry De Los Santos.

De Los Santos then got Luis Urias to fly out to shallow center to nail down the win.

The Pirates struck first with three runs in the second. Josh VanMeter led off with a single and Cruz followed with a two-run blast to center, making it 2-0.

After working Brewers starter Adrian Houser to a full count, Suwinski made it 3-0 when he went deep.

The Brewers trimmed that three-run deficit to one in the third when Jace Peterson doubled, Christian Yelich ripped an RBI triple and Willy Adames brought Yelich home on a grounder to second.

Milwaukee tied the score with a run in the fourth off Brubaker when Kolten Wong doubled to left and Omar Narvaez yanked a one-out double to right.

But the Pirates answered in the bottom of the fourth, once again flashing the long ball in the form of Perez’s first two-run homer, which came after Suwinski drew a one-out walk.

Perez’s blast made it 5-3.

The Brewers pulled to within 5-4 in the sixth when former Buc Andrew McCutchen doubled, moved to third on a fly out and scored on Luis Urias’ ground out to third. But Perez gave the Pirates some breathing room in the bottom of the inning when he hit his second two-run homer, which followed a Suwinski single.

Perez capped his memorable evening with a solo shot in the eighth.

Brubaker worked six innings and gave up seven hits, four runs – all earned — and two walks while striking out six.