A simple look at the Miller Park scoreboard Saturday night after three innings couldn’t have been encouraging for Pittsburgh Pirates fans. The Pirates trailed the Milwaukee Brewers by three runs.
But the Pirates were able to come back, putting up crooked numbers in both the fourth and sixth innings to come away with a series-clinching 9-6 victory.
Pittsburgh starting pitcher Jameson Taillon made his shortest career major league outing, three innings, after allowing five runs on seven hits.
This is the first time since June 24 that Taillon hasn’t made it into the sixth inning of a start.
The Pirates struck first when Starling Marte recorded an RBI double for a second consecutive game. It was Marte’s 32 double of the season, and it scored Josh Harrison, who led off the game with a single, advanced to second base on a ground ball and stole third base prior to the hit.
But the Brewers answered back.
Milwaukee third baseman Hernan Pérez entered this series with good 2016 numbers against the Pirates, but he came to the plate in the first inning 0-for-5 in the two games prior to Saturday’s. Perez ended up taking Taillon deep on an 0-1 changeup that was just under the middle of the strike zone. The home run plated three runs.
Not to be outdone, Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia added a fourth run when his single brought home Domingo Santana.
Two innings later, Perez came up and homered again, this time on a 3-1 fastball right down the middle of the plate that went over the center field wall.
Brewers starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson is known as a ground ball pitcher, and he didn’t disappoint in that regard, recording nine ground ball outs. Where Nelson did disappoint was in a five-run fourth inning he couldn’t complete.
The Pirates loaded the bases with one out in the inning on an Adam Frazier single and walks to Jordy Mercer and Eric Fryer. Pinch-hitter John Jaso was sent to the plate and singled in two runs. It was his second pinch-hit single of the series. Harrison led the team with three hits, one of which came right after the Jaso hit when Harrison singled home another two runs. Both Harrison and Jaso advanced an extra base after Ryan Braun’s throwing error.
Josh Bell then hit an RBI ground out to tie the game.
Nelson was then pulled after Andrew McCutchen’s RBI single gave Pittsburgh the lead.
Up 6-5, Pirates reliever Jeff Locke was tasked with pitching multiple shutout innings to hold the lead.
Instead, Locke threw a first-pitch upper-middle fastball that Tyler Cravy hit for his first career home run. This is the first run Locke has allowed as a reliever after throwing 9.1 shutout innings in his first five career relief appearances.
Locke (9-7) would get the win, however, when Gregory Polanco found the right-center field gap on a sixth inning 2-1 fastball that unloaded the bases.
Locke’s win means he’s tied with Juan Nicasio for most by a Pirates pitcher this season.
Nicasio relieved Locke and struck out five batters in three shutout innings. This effort matches one against Milwaukee on July 31, where Nicasio struck out five in a relief appearance for most strikeouts as a reliever. Nicasio has a 2.25 ERA in his last 22 appearances.
Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth inning and, despite allowing two base runners, earned his second save of the season.
Sunday afternoon, the Pirates will go for their first series sweep at Miller Park since 2004. Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova (10-7, 4.55 ERA) will face Milwaukee’s Chase Anderson (7-10, 4.99 ERA).
Pirates starer Gerrit Cole will be miss his Monday start against the Chicago Cubs. Cole will be flying to Los Angeles on Sunday to have his right elbow examined. In Cole’s place, Pittsburgh’s Steven Brault (0-1, 3.60 ERA) will make his third career start. It’s unclear whether Cole will be out for longer than Monday’s start.
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