Crew topped in final frame after Peralta's solid start
K-Rod tagged with three runs in ninth as Bucs even series
MILWAUKEE -- It may not have been a blown save, but it was still tough to swallow for the Brewers closer.
Coming on in the top of the ninth with the game tied at 1 instead of in a save situation, Major League saves leader Francisco Rodriguez allowed three runs on four consecutive hits, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates a 4-1 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday night at Miller Park.
"It's always tough," said Rodriguez, who has converted 16 of 17 save opportunities. "If it's a 1-1 game, up by one, up by two, down by one -- it's always tough. In that situation you have to find a way to keep the score where it is and give the offense an opportunity. Unfortunately, it wasn't my day."
Starling Marte's two-run double capped the three-run rally for the Pirates, who were unable to break through against starter Wily Peralta and reliever Will Smith.
After Jose Tabata flied out to right to start the inning, Ike Davis singled to right and moved to second on Jordy Mercer's single up the middle. Clint Barmes ran for Davis and Chris Stewart followed with a single to center for his first RBI of the season to make it 2-1.
Marte, who remained in the game after coming on to pinch-hit in the eighth inning after being out of the starting lineup for the third consecutive game with tightness in his back, followed with a drive over the head of center fielder Elian Herrera to score both runs.
"Obviously, he's got pretty good stuff," Stewart said. "I saw quite a few pitches from him last night, so that helped going into the at-bat tonight. He stayed away from me last night, so that gave me a read of what he was going to try to do in that situation. The first pitch was borderline, the next pitch I was just a little late on, just trying to see it, see if it was an offspeed pitch. The next pitch was the same approach, and fortunately he just left it up for me and I got a decent swing off it to the right spot."
It was the second rough outing in three appearances for Rodriguez, whose 13 saves in March and April tied a Major League record set in 2001 by Kazuhiro Sasaki of the Mariners. He suffered his first blown save of the season Sunday against the Yankees, giving up a game-tying two-run homer to Mark Teixeira, although the Brewers salvaged a 6-5 victory.
"I don't think he's tired, I think his fastball's still really good," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "Actually his fastball's getting better. His changeup isn't as good. He's just been up in the zone with it. But, he's pitched a lot, which is a good thing because it means that we're playing well. He'll get his changeup back down and he'll be fine."
Tony Watson (4-0) pitched the eighth inning for the victory. Mark Melancon pitched the ninth for his fifth save. It was just the second victory for the Pirates in nine games this season against Milwaukee.
Neither starter figured in the decision, but both pitched well. Peralta allowed one run on five hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking one. Francisco Liriano, who has gone 12 starts since his last victory on Sept. 10, allowed one run on four hits in six innings, striking out seven and walking one. Liriano has not had a decision in his last five starts, although the Pirates have won each game.
"We didn't have great scoring opportunities today," Roenicke said. "Liriano was pretty good. The double plays, again, killed us. We didn't swing the bat that well."
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Andrew McCutchen walked to open, moved to third on a single by Pedro Alvarez and scored when Tabata reached on a fielder's choice.
The Brewers answered with a run in the fifth. Khris Davis led off with a double down the left-field line and moved to third when Jean Segura reached on an error by first baseman Ike Davis. Jeff Bianchi followed with a sacrifice fly to left.
Pittsburgh threatened in the eighth when consecutive two-out singles off Smith by Neil Walker and McCutchen put runners at the corners, but Alvarez struck out to end the inning.
The Brewers failed to capitalize on two walks in the seventh inning when Herrera grounded out to short to end the inning with runners on first and third.