MILWAUKEE -- Brewers right-hander Chase Anderson logged his sixth straight quality start and Travis Shaw homered and drove in three runs in a 4-2 win over the Pirates on Thursday at Miller Park, which sent the Brewers back on the road with at least a game and a half lead
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers right-hander Chase Anderson logged his sixth straight quality start and Travis Shaw homered and drove in three runs in a 4-2 win over the Pirates on Thursday at Miller Park, which sent the Brewers back on the road with at least a game and a half lead over the rest of the National League Central.
"This team, this run," said Anderson, "it's been a lot of fun."
The Ivan Nova vs. Anderson matchup pitted the fifth- and sixth-best ERAs in the NL against each other, but it took both starters an inning to settle in. They combined to throw 54 pitches in a 35-minute first inning that saw the Brewers take a 2-1 lead. Eric Thames snapped an 0-for-15 funk with an RBI single before Shaw hit a solo home run off Nova, who needed 30 pitches to navigate his half of the frame. That was out of character for a pitcher who entered the day leading MLB's qualifying starters at 13.2 pitches per inning.
Shaw's big day included a go-ahead solo home run in the first inning, a go-ahead double in the fifth and another run-scoring double in the seventh that hit the yellow line atop the left-field wall and bounced back into play. Those few inches cost Shaw and the Brewers two runs, but Shaw improved to 7-for-10 lifetime against Nova.
"The guy is seeing all of my pitches really well. Give him credit, too," said Nova. "He's one of the hitters I've tried to find a way to get out. I pitch hard inside, the guy hits a bullet to first base. Threw a curveball, he hit a homer. Threw a sinker over the plate, he almost hit a homer, so you have to tip your cap to him."
• Pirates see positives in series despite mistakes
Anderson allowed two runs over six innings on just two hits, including Gregory Polanco's tying solo home run in the fourth. It was Anderson's sixth consecutive start of six or more innings with three or fewer earned runs, a span in which the right-hander has a 1.33 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings.
With back-to-back wins, the Brewers sealed a winning homestand and a split of their four-game series with the Pirates.
"We've done that a couple times this year," manager Craig Counsell said. "It's certainly a nice way to finish and salvage it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Upon further review: Most of the 28,428 fans in the stands at Miller Park thought Shaw's fly ball in the seventh was a home run, and so did Domingo Santana. He was at first base behind Eric Sogard when Shaw lifted Nova's first-pitch fastball in the air. Sogard scored, but Brewers third-base coach Ed Sedar appeared to urge Santana to pick up the pace as Santana rounded third and Pirates left fielder John Jaso returned the baseball to the infield. Santana maintained his easy gait and was out at home by several steps. After a crew chief review, the original call stood and the inning was over.
"I had no idea what was going on behind me," Jaso said. "I knew it was like a guaranteed double at least if not a homer. I just played back, waiting for it to hit the ball. It kind of gave me a really good bounce off the wall obviously to make a strong play. J.H. [Josh Harrison] was there for the relay. It was all kind of bang-bang."
Said Shaw: "I saw it on the board, and as soon as I saw it it was pretty clear that it wasn't a home run. … I'll take two doubles and a homer. Can't complain." More >
Out at home, again: Sogard tallied three hits for the fourth time in 27 Brewers starts, but his biggest contribution came in the field. With two outs in the eighth and Adam Frazier at second base for Pittsburgh, Polanco smashed a hard line drive that kicked off first baseman Thames' glove and dribbled into right field. Sogard dove to scoop up the baseball, wheeled and threw home to catcher Jett Bandy, who in turn dove toward the plate in time to tag Frazier to end the inning. The Pirates challenged, but the call stood once again.
"The best part about the play was there was just no hesitation," said Counsell. "Get to the ball and throw it home. Any hesitation, and there's trouble." More >
"We split them. We played a very competitive ballclub. Walking out of here, you give them credit for what they've done so far. We've got work to do."-- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
After tying a record held by Albertin Chapman on Wednesday night, Brewers closer Corey Knebel stood alone Thursday when he struck out Josh Bell leading off the ninth. It gave Knebel at least one strikeout in each of his 38 appearances, breaking Chapman's record for a reliever to start a season. The all-time single-season record for a reliever, regardless of the timing, is Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter's 39-game streak from June 1-Oct. 2, 1977, for the Cubs.
Pirates: The Pirates will continue their seven-game road trip with a three-game series in St. Louis beginning at 8:15 p.m. ET on Friday. Right-hander Jameson Taillon seeks to help the Pirates snap their seven-game losing streak at Busch Stadium, which dates back to last season. The Bucs lost three straight 2-1 decisions in St. Louis when they first visited in mid-April.
Brewers: The Crew will head south to face the Braves in a three-game series, their first at new SunTrust Park. Jimmy Nelson will take the mound in the series opener at 6:35 p.m. CT on Friday. In his last start vs. the Padres, Nelson threw his first career complete-game win and the Brewers' first since 2015.
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Carson Mason is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee and covered the Pirates on Thursday.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.