In typical Pirates fashion, Wandy Rodriguez and the Bucs spotted the Brewers an early lead. Norichika Aoki, who homered as the leadoff man last night, started the first with a single. A stolen base and error later, and the right fielder was standing on third. Rickie Weeks followed with a walk before Brian Braun reached first on a fielder’s choice. Aoki scored on the play.
It was former Pirate Aramis Ramirez who brought the lumber next. He belted his 25th home run of the season over the centerfield wall to give the Brew Crew a 3-0 lead. Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez settled after the blast, striking out counterpart Mike Fiers to end the inning.
“These guys know the cost of not getting the results you want,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said of his team’s play. “We can’t back away from the game.”
Pittsburgh attempted to answer in the bottom of the inning when Starling Marte reached scoring position. The heart of the Pirates lineup could not muster the offense though, as the Bucs headed into the second scoreless.
A simple second inning transitioned into a thrilling third.
Ramirez kicked off the frame with a double. He tagged to third base before Jonathan Lucroy sacrifice flied to plate the Brewers fourth run.
This time, Pittsburgh did strike back.
Rodriguez recorded a leadoff single – just his third hit of the year – and Marte reached on a fielder’s choice. Travis Snider then singled, advancing Marte to third. The rest was up to Pittsburgh’s MVP candidate.
Andrew McCutchen belted his 30th home run of the season over the left field wall to pull the Pirates within one. The three run shot was his fourth home run in his last seven games. It also marked his sixth dinger against the Brewers this year.
Pittsburgh’s strong third inning carried into the fourth. Pedro Alvarez and Clint Barmes both singled and Rob Barajas walked to juice the bases. In need of a run, Hurdle swapped Alex Presley for Rodriguez. The pinch hitter grounded into a fielder’s choice but Alvarez scored on the play to tie the game.
“We had one run in 24 innings coming in. It was time to role the dice. I wanted to play a hitter to open things up,” Hurdle said.
Barmes kept the momentum going in the sixth when he knocked his 12th home run out of the park to put the Pirates on top. Consecutive hits by Barajas and Jeff Clement set the table for Marte to give the Bucs a bigger cushion. The rookie took advantage with an RBI single. Further damage was avoided when McCutchen grounded out to end the inning.
Milwaukee began their comeback in the eighth inning.
Singles from Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura preceded an Aoki RBI double. Spot relief came in the form of a Nyjer Morgan pop out, but Weeks continued the role with a two-RBI triple of his own. The second baseman’s big play came as no surprise to most. He is batting .341 with seven home runs over his last 19 games. His latest hit pushed the Brewers in front 8-7.
The Pirates never recovered. Milwaukee, however, added another run in the final frame to seal the deal.
“We have to stay positive,” said Jared Hughes, who relieved Rodriguez. “We are going to stay confident and do what it takes to win. If we go out there the next two weeks and play as hard as we can, good things will happen.”
Pittsburgh starts a new series at Minute Maid Park with the Houston Astros tomorrow at 8:05. The Pirates Jeff Locke (0-1, 5.49) will face Edgar Gonzalez (2-1, 4.40) in the first contest of a three game series.