MILWAUKEE -- It was as if the Pirates and Brewers decided to settle the small ball vs. long ball debate, once and for all. On Wednesday at Miller Park, the home runs ruled.The Pirates collected six run-scoring singles, five with two outs, to account for all of their runs, but
MILWAUKEE -- It was as if the Pirates and Brewers decided to settle the small ball vs. long ball debate, once and for all. On Wednesday at Miller Park, the home runs ruled.
The Pirates collected six run-scoring singles, five with two outs, to account for all of their runs, but the Brewers struck back with a barrage of homers for a 7-6 win, their fourth straight. Keon Broxton hit a pair, Neil Walker hit his first in a Brewers uniform, Travis Shaw smacked No. 26 this season and Manny Pina gave Milwaukee the lead for good with a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth as Milwaukee overcame a trio of deficits to win.
"That's our team, and it started in the first half. Swinging the bat, hitting homers, bringing in a lot of runs," Pina said. "The clubhouse, the dugout, we're feeling the energy."
The Brewers remained 1 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Cubs, who walked off, 7-6, over the Reds. The Pirates fell 5 1/2 games back.
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"We threw out 11 hits to get our runs and they [swing] it five times and get seven," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We had our best guys out there. We came up short today by one run."
Among NL clubs, only the Mets have more home runs than the Brewers' 177, and Pina is now one home run shy of making Milwaukee the only NL team with nine players in double digits. It would be 10 if you count newcomer Walker's stats with the Mets.
"I remember being here earlier in the year and he hit a huge three-run home run in the eighth inning," said Walker, referring to Pina's go-ahead shot on Mother's Day. "He has a knack for big hits late in the game, I guess."
Pina's homer against Juan Nicasio made a winner of Brewers reliever Anthony Swarzak, who had just surrendered a go-ahead run to the Pirates in the top of the inning on Adam Frazier's one-out single. The hit scored Josh Bell, who led the way for the Pirates with three hits -- including two of their two-out, run-scoring singles. Bell led off the eighth with a stand-up triple before Frazier drove him home.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Broxton heats up: Broxton, a former Pirate, came off the bench Tuesday night to hit a pinch-hit solo home run, and he stayed hot Wednesday afternoon by hitting a solo home run to right field in the third inning to start a three-run Brewers strike, and a tying solo home run to left field in the seventh. It gave the streaky Broxton 19 home runs this season -- and three in the span of four plate appearances.
"I think we just feed off each other once one guy goes deep," Broxton said. "It gives guys behind them the momentum to go up there with confidence and swing the bat." More >
Pirates capitalize on errors: Pittsburgh scored a pair of go-ahead runs thanks to Brewers errors. In the first inning, Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson's errant pickoff attempt pushed Starling Marte to third base for Bell's two-out single and a 1-0 lead. In the seventh, John Jaso's grounder glanced off first baseman Jesus Aguilar's glove for another error, and Jaso eventually scored for a 5-4 lead on Josh Harrison's two-out hit. Jaso scored ahead of a two-hop throw home from Brewers left fielder Hernan Perez, a call that stood upon review after the Brewers challenged.
"The first five runs we scored were on two-out hits," Hurdle said. "The guys did a nice job focusing in, locking in. Frazier did a nice job driving in the sixth run. We did a lot of nice things today, but we didn't win a game."
Walker stays hot: After the Pirates extended their lead to 4-0 with five singles off Nelson in a three-run third inning, the Brewers powered their way back into the game in the home half against Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole. Broxton's solo homer leading off the frame was his second in as many at-bats (he hit a pinch-hit homer in Tuesday's win), and two batters later, Walker cut the deficit to 4-3 with a two-run shot. It was Walker's first home run since coming to the Brewers in a weekend trade with the Mets.
"It was a good answer back," said Walker of the three-run rally. "I think that inning kind of calmed us down a little bit, and it calmed down Jimmy, too. He did a great job of keeping us in the game."
"It is just frustrating to get spotted that and not be able to hold it. That's kind of the sour taste in my mouth right now." -- Cole
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
From the "baseball is a weird game" department: Pirates hitters went 6-for-12 with runners in scoring position, while Cole and three relievers held the Brewers without a single at-bat with RISP -- the first such game for Milwaukee since July 19, 2010, at Pittsburgh. Yet it was the Brewers celebrating a win.
On the way to securing his 24th save in his 11th consecutive scoreless appearance, Brewers closer Corey Knebel tied the club record for strikeouts by a reliever. Knebel has 98 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings, matching Julio Machado's mark from 1991.
Pirates:Jameson Taillon will take the ball to open a four-game series against the Cardinals at 7:05 p.m. ET on Thursday. The right-hander has yet to beat St. Louis in his career and is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts this season.
Brewers: The Brewers are off on Thursday before heading out west for a nine-game road trip, beginning with a three-game series at Colorado on Friday. Matt Garza will take the mound in the series opener at 7:40 p.m. CT. The Rockies will counter with right-hander German Marquez. Garza has not faced the Rockies this season, but he is 2-5 with a 6.10 ERA in seven career starts against them.
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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.
Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee and covered the Pirates on Wednesday.