Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia entered Saturday night’s game a .184 hitter but left PNC Park having recorded three hits that helped give the Brewers a 7-4 series clinching victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Arcia ended up a home run shy of the cycle.
On the Pirates end, they got Brewers starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson to walk a season-high six batters and allow four hits while elevating his pitch count to 99 pitches over 5.1.
Despite this, the Pirates scored one run off Nelson.
“We’ve got to find a way to score runs,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “For me to dissect it in front you all, that’s not one of my gifts.”
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova appeared to be heading toward his fifth victory in six starts with the team, but one Chris Carter swing of the bat changed that.
With Scooter Gennett on third base, first baseman Chris Carter wasted no time swinging at a first-pitch curve ball located on the lower middle portion of strike zone and sent the pitch 412 feet into the left field seats.
“It was a mistake,” said Nova. “He was looking for that sinker, and I decided to throw the curve ball and he hit it out.”
Carter had four hits in the game, which is his highest total since June 23, 2013.
“Only one pitch, that’s it,” Francisco Cervelli said. “You’re not supposed to win every game by one. We’ve got to score runs. He did everything he could, but we didn’t score runs so I think it’s our fault.”
Prior to the sixth inning Nova allowed a lead-off single to Keon Broxton but then retired 11 of the next 12 batters. He recorded eight ground ball outs, and Nova’s six strikeouts tie for a high in his time with the Pirates.
Nova even helped his own cause in the fifth inning.
He allowed a lead-off triple to Arcia bringing up Martin Maldonado. Maldonado hit a soft ground ball back to Nova, who scooped and tossed the ball with his glove to get Arcia out at home plate.
After Gennett’s lead-off double in the sixth inning, Nova got a ground ball out, which advanced Gennett to third base and a foul out prevented the run from scoring. There was no doubt what would happen once Carter’s bat connected with Nova’s pitch.
The blast was enough to end Nova’s night after six innings and 70 pitches thrown.
Initially, the Pirates had given Nova a lead when Josh Harrison and Josh Bell led off the bottom half of the first inning with a single and walk, respectively. Gregory Polanco’s sacrifice fly plated Harrison putting the Pirates on the board.
Though the Brewers led 2-1 in the seventh inning, it appeared the momentum changed teams. Jared Hughes came in and loaded the bases with out out and got to a 3-0 count to Gennett.
The fans voiced their displeasure and sarcastic applauded when Hughes got a borderline pitch called for a strike. Hughes then turned those same fans around getting an inning-ending double play.
In the bottom half of the frame, Bell grounded into a double play, but Andrew McCutchen hit his 19th home run of the season tying the game at 2.
Neftali Feliz (4-2) started the inning but departed with right-arm discomfort after a single, fielder’s choice and a single. Felipe Rivero replaced him and walked pinch-hitter Jake Elmore and allowed Arcia hit a single that put the Brewers back in the lead. Two batters later, pinch-hitter Manny Pina singled in two runs.
A third pitcher was needed to finish the inning as Kelvin Marte made his major league debut. He was greeted by a Keon Broxton RBI single. He then walked Gennett before getting Ryan Braun to strike out.
Still the damage had been done as the Brewers batted around the order.
In the bottom half, Starling Marte hit his ninth home run of the season to lead off the inning. Pinch-hitter John Jaso later added an RBI single. With runners on first and second, Harrison grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Brewers scored once more in the ninth inning as Hernan Perez tripled and Carter singled him in.
Tyler Thornburg pitched the bottom half of the ninth inning and earned his eighth save of the season in support of Carlos Torres (3-3) who was given the win.
The series concludes Sunday afternoon when Steven Brault (0-1, 3.86 ERA) faces Chase Anderson (7-11, 4.92 ERA). Brault lost a 3-1 decision to the Brewers on Jul. 29 allowing all three runs in six innings of work.
Photo credit: @Pirates