After Francisco Cervelli caught the final strike in the ninth inning of Sunday afternoon’s game, the Pittsburgh Pirates not only defeated National League Central rival Milwaukee Brewers 3-1, but clinched a road series sweep for the first time since 2004.
While this is reason enough for the Pirates to be satisfied by their extended weekend, the sweep was well timed as now the Pirates are half a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for a Wild Card Spot.
Ivan Nova (10-6, 4.55 ERA) allowed a run on three hits in six innings and now is 4-0 since joining the Pirates at the MLB Trade Deadline.
He was removed after six innings because of left hamstring discomfort.
Nova did allow a run in the third inning, as Jonathan Villar hit a two-out solo home run, his 11th of the season, to right-center field.
Nova had eight ground ball outs and had a stretch of six consecutive batters retired.
Though the Brewers scored first, the Pirates replied with a two-run sixth inning taking the lead for good.
Brewers starter Chase Anderson (7-11) had allowed three hits over five innings before the inning and left recording one out.
John Jaso led off the sixth inning with a home run. It was his first homer since June 22 – a span of 108 at-bats.
After Andrew McCutchen lined out, Gregory Polanco added a second solo home run in the inning, his 20th of the season and this pulled Anderson from the game.
A third solo home run concluded the Pirates scoring as Starling Marte blasted his eighth homer off Carlos Torres.
After Nova left Sunday’s game, Antonio Bastardo struck out two batters and needed only nine pitches to get out of the seventh inning.
Felipe Rivero pitched a scoreless eighth and Tony Watson struck out two Brewers in a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 10th save of the season.
The Pirates will make the short trip to Wrigley Field with Steven Brault (0-1, 3.60 ERA) facing Jake Arrieta (16-5, 2.62 ERA). Brault is coming off a Triple-A appearance Thursday against Louisville in which he allowed three runs on three hits over two innings.
Photo credit: @Pirates