Pirates warm up in rematch with Brewers' Nelson
PITTSBURGH -- Sean Rodriguez and Josh Harrison delivered RBI singles in the fifth inning Friday night to snap a 1-1 tie and Starling Marte added a two-run homer in the eighth as the Pirates downed the Brewers, 6-3.
Jimmy Nelson, who blanked Pittsburgh for seven innings on Saturday, again pitched well but received little support from a Milwaukee offense that continued to be challenged with men in scoring position, going 1-for-7 in those situations.
"I felt like I was able to get more ground balls this outing than last outing, although overall I wasn't quite as sharp," Nelson said. "But you're not going to be sharp every time out." More >
Andrew McCutchen, batting cleanup for the first time since 2013, brought in the Pirates' first run in 23 innings with a scoring grounder in the fourth, neutralizing Gerardo Parra's RBI infield grounder in the second. The Pirates, who had not scored since the seventh inning of their home opener on Monday, added on with three runs in the eighth off Jonathan Broxton.
"Even tonight we had some missed opportunities," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said, "but we kept plugging away and started to finish innings off."
Vance Worley, knocked around for six runs in 6 1/3 innings Saturday in Miller Park, got his first win by holding the Brewers to two runs in six innings, allowing six hits while walking four (two intentionally) and fanning six. More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
McCutchen, Mr. Cleanup: It wasn't in response to the Pirates' team hitting slump, but a response to the scheduled off-day of the usual cleanup hitter, Neil Walker. But McCutchen took over the lineup's No. 4 hole for only the second time since 2011. And the customary No. 3 hitter played the part, doubling for the Bucs' first hit and driving in their first run -- for his 242nd RBI at PNC Park, passing Jason Bay for the yard record. More >
No slowdown in shutdown: Pirates pitchers certainly haven't been called on for shutdown innings since the Bucs had not scored since the seventh on Monday. But when Worley got his chance in the fifth, he responded: Minutes after the Bucs had tied it at 1, he faced Ryan Braun with two on and one out -- and put up the zero by getting him to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Big hits elude Brew Crew: Milwaukee entered Friday night batting just .219 with runners in scoring position this season. Those struggles continued in several key moments against the Pirates. With men on second and third and one out in the second inning, Parra could only manage a run-scoring groundout in the second. Scooter Gennett struck out looking with two runners on in the fourth. And perhaps the biggest blow was Braun's double-play grounder with two runners on in the fifth inning.
"I'm seeing some good at-bats from some guys. That's encouraging," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "But still, we need to put this thing together and have them in a row so when you get that opportunity to score, you're coming through with another hit and trying to add on and get some more runs." More >
"Pressure is something you feel when you don't know what you're doing. (Playing ball) is not a fistfight; it's more of a dance." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on winning the mental battle before winning the game.
"I know this team has good character. I know we're going to respond to this and learn from it." -- Nelson, on the Brewers' 2-8 start to the season
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Jeff Locke, who on Saturday will make his second straight start against the Brewers, has made repeat starts against the same team three times in his career, and in those games has allowed 21 hits and 15 earned runs in 14 innings.
Broxton has struggled in Pittsburgh throughout his career. Broxton gave up three runs on four hits while recording only two outs Friday night, bringing his career totals at PNC Park to 23 earned runs on 28 hits in 14 ⅓ innings. Since 2013, he's allowed 18 earned runs on 22 hits in 11 ⅓ innings against the Pirates.
Brewers: Right-hander Kyle Lohse will look for his first win of the season Saturday night. He's struggled in the early going, posting an 0-2 record and 11.17 ERA after two starts, but he's 11-4 with a 3.81 ERA in 24 career games against the Pirates.
Pirates: Locke takes on Milwaukee in the middle game of the series at 7:05 p.m. ET, seeking his fifth win in his last six home decisions. The Bucs won eight of Locke's last nine starts of 2014 in PNC Park.
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