On a 2-2 pitch from reliever Michael Fiers—the eighth pitcher Brewers manager Ron Roenicke called upon in the evening—McCutchen hit what he thought would be just another ball to stay in the park after hitting two balls hard to the outfield in two of his five previous plate appearances. This time, McCutchen’s contact lived up to expectations and ended the game.
“That’s kind of the way it goes I guess,” said McCutchen. “Sometimes the ball just doesn’t carry I guess so you just gotta keep going on, keep playing, that’s all you can do.”
The ball finally did carry for McCutchen, and it carried out to give McCutchen his fourth career walk-off home run in his fourth season as a big-leaguer. McCutchen’s clutch finishing blow gave Vin Mazzaro (2-0) his second victory of the season after pitching two shutout innings in relief, in which he allowed just one walk and one hit.
Starting the game for the Pirates was Jeff Locke, who looked sharp in his first three innings of work despite allowing a home run to Jean Segura in the first inning. Locke struck out five of the first nine batters he faced and seemed to have the Brewers lineup off-balance.
“Just mixing the breaking ball and fastball on both sides of the plate,” Locke said about what went well in the early going. “The breaking ball was real crisp for a few innings there and I kind of got away from that as the game went on.”
In the next two innings though, the Brewers touched Locke for a run in the fourth and fifth to take a 3-1 lead over Pittsburgh while Milwaukee starting pitcher Kyle Lohse settled into a groove after allowing a run of his own in the first inning. Starling Marte led off with a base hit, and later scored on a RBI groundout by Garrett Jones.
But Pittsburgh was able to respond mostly with the assistance of Russell Martin’s return to the lineup and Neil Walker getting on base to score two runs. Walker led off the sixth with a walk, and moved to third on the first of two doubles by Martin in the game.
Walker then scored on a RBI groundout by Clint Barmes to cut Milwaukee’s in half to 3-2.
Walker scored the game-tying run in the eighth after leading off the inning with a single—his first since his return from the disabled list—and Martin doubled again to score him. Third base coach Rick Sofield made a risky call to send Walker home, but a play at the plate was negated by an off-line throw by the cut-off man Segura.
“It’s an aggressive play. If the guy throws the ball right to the catcher at the plate, we’re probably out but he didn’t,” manager Clint Hurdle said about the call to send Walker home. “We took a chance, we played aggressively, and we got a high throw. I always tell the base coaches I don’t ever want to know if they might have been safe.”
In addition to Martin having an impact offensively, he also played a large role in halting Milwaukee’s base-running that resulted in six Brewer steals Monday. Tuesday, Milwaukee stole no bases and the only attempt by Ryan Braun was snuffed out by Martin at second.
“Martin behind the plate, he’s a game-changer,” Hurdle said.
But Tuesday, the ultimate game-changer was McCutchen who delivered the knockout blow and gave the Pirates a win against a team they are now 72-23 against since 2007.
“It’s like they got a horseshoe up their butt every time we play them, that’s the way I look at it that’s the way I see it, it just seems like everything goes their way every time we play them,” McCutchen said. “For us to be able to come out, be able to fight, and be able to win is definitely a plus and hopefully we can just build off that and finish these next two games against them on a high note.”