For a good while, the narrative when the Pittsburgh Pirates visited Miller Park was a losing one — the Pirates had struggled in Milwaukee. After Wednesday night’s 4-1 Pirates victory against the Milwaukee Brewers, things have changed.
Now, the Pirates have won six consecutive meetings between these two teams at Miller Park. The last time the Pirates won six in a row at Miller Park occurred in 2002.
Pittsburgh starting pitcher Chad Kuhl (5-3) pitched six innings of one-run baseball, something that’s not an easy feat to accomplish at Miller Park. Normally ground ball outs are Kuhl’s best friend, but there were only three of those Wednesday.
Instead, Kuhl had a career-high six strikeouts and allowed a total of six baserunners, lowering his ERA from 3.97 to 3.73.
While he had an up-and-down first inning (allowing a one-out double and a two-out walk) that required pitching coach Ray Searage to settle his pitcher down, Kuhl then looked great starting in the second inning. He began a streak of retiring nine consecutive Brewers hitters.
His lone miscue came in the fifth inning when Jonathan Villar singled in Michael Reed with one out in the frame.
Of course, it helps that when Kuhl first toed the rubber, he already was staked to a 3-0 lead.
Brewers’ starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson (8-15) appeared like he was going to have a 1-2-3 first inning as he needed eight pitches to earn the first two outs and had Andrew McCutchen at a 2-2 count. Nelson’s 2-2 pitch was outside the strike zone, but it didn’t matter as McCutchen hit it over the left field wall for his 24th home run of the season.
This was McCutchen’s 17th career home run at Miller Park, which has him in a tie for second place all-time for opposing teams’ players. He now has a season-high nine-game hitting streak, which eclipses his previous high of eight that was set on both May 4-14 and August 23-30.
Sean Rodriguez then continued the scoring — and his road tear — with a two-run single. Rodriguez wasn’t done, however, hitting a fourth-inning home run, his 18th of the season. It’s already been established that Rodriguez has had a successful road trip hitting .406 going into this game.
Rodriguez now has a 10-game hitting streak, which is his highest total in his second season with the Pirates. It ties the second-longest streak in his career. (His longest is 15 games set in 2012 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.)
Pirates’ reliever Juan Nicasio pitched the seventh inning and put up a zero. He struck out Reed, giving Nicasio 31 consecutive games with a strikeout, the longest such streak since Aroldis Chapman had a strike out in 37 games as a Cincinnati Red in 2014.
Felipe Rivero earned his 26th hold of the season, and Tony Watson notched his 15th save.
With a series victory assured, the Pirates find themselves 3.5 games behind in the NL Wildcard race. There are two available spots and three teams — the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants and New York Mets — are all tied for the top spot. The Pirates have 11 games remaining in their regular season.
The Pirates will be going for their second consecutive sweep at Miller Park when they send Ryan Vogelsong (3-5, 4.87 ERA) to the mound against the Brewers’ Chase Anderson (8-11, 4.47 ERA). Vogelsong is 6-3 with a 4.57 ERA in 17 career appearances (11 starts) against the Brewers.
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