Despite the Milwaukee Brewers being losers in nine of their last 10 games, they dominated in all facets of the game on Monday night at PNC Park. The Brewers dropped the Pirates 5-1, capitalizing on multiple mistakes by a sloppy Pittsburgh defensive effort. Marco Estrada, the starter for Milwaukee, struggled for his first few starts on the season, but he’s had a lot of success against the Bucs as of late.
“He moves the ball around the plate in the strike zone,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Change up is a big pitch for him, the breaking ball is a big pitch for him, he spots up his fastball and we haven’t had a lot of success against him.”
Estrada threw seven innings for Milwaukee, allowing only three hits and one run while striking out five Bucco hitters. The Brewers offense came from the first two spots in their order between Norichika Aoki and Jean Segura. Aoki and Segura combined for five of the six stolen bases on the night.
“They have more team speed than anyone in the league,” Hurdle added. “Everyone in the line up runs. They teach it well, they have athletic guys, and tonight was a storm in which didn’t have many answers for anything tonight out there.”
Stolen bases have been a problem for the Pirates in the last few years and tonight wasn’t any different. Along with the three errors committed by the Bucs, all in the seventh inning, the Brewers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.
Aoki doubled to left to start off the game, and Segura followed that up with a single to move Aoki to third. Segura stole second on the next pitch, and Carlos Gomez brought home Aoki with a single, putting the Brewers up 1-0.
A.J. Burnett kept the game close until the top of the fifth. After a leadoff double to right by Logan Schafer, Estrada laid down a sacrifice bunt to move him to third. Aoki doubled down the right field line to bring in Schafter, giving the Brewers a 2-0 lead. Aoki then stole third off of Burnett, and once again, Segura did damage to the Bucs defense with an infield single to bring in Aoki for a 3-0 cushion.
The Brewers extended their lead in the seventh. Schafer reached base again on an error by Gaby Sanchez at first. Schafer moved to second after an errant pickoff throw by Burnett, and he moved to third after another sacrifice bunt by Estrada. Aoki hit a slow grounder back to Burnett in the next at bat, but Burnett had trouble gripping the ball and Aoki reached first, bringing in Schafer for a 4-0 Milwaukee lead.
“You gotta come out of the gate a little stronger, a little better,” A.J. Burnett said of his start. “It was just one of those nights, man. Nothing went our way out there tonight.”
The Pirates got their lone run on the board in the bottom half of the inning. Sanchez lead off with a double off the right field wall and moved to third on a Neil Walker flyout to right. Pedro Alvarez hit a ball between short and third, grounding out on the play but still bringing in Sanchez to cut the lead to 4-1.
Milwaukee scored their final run of the game in the ninth. Pinch hitter Alex Gonzalez singled to center, and a sacrifice bunt by Schafer moved him to second. Gonzalez moved to third on a wild pitch by reliever Tony Watson. Aoki , reaching base for his fourth and final time on the night, brought him in with a single to put the final score at 5-1.
The Pirates, despite struggling offensively and only amassing four hits throughout the game, did have chances with the runners they got on base, but they couldn’t capitalize.
“We have to take advantage of opportunities offensively,” Neil Walker said. “It’s a matter of us doing better in all aspects of the game.”
The Pirates and Brewers face off again at PNC Park on Tuesday night. Jeff Locke (3-1, 2.95 ERA) gets the starting nod against Kyle Lohse (1-4, 3.53 ERA) with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.