Grilli, Pirates stunned by Braun's homer in ninth
Closer unable to protect one-run lead as Bucs drop close one to Crew
PITTSBURGH -- Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun smacked his second home run of the game, a two-run shot in the ninth inning off closer Jason Grilli, to send the Pirates to an 8-7 loss on Saturday night at PNC Park.
Grilli came on to pitch the ninth and with one out surrendered a single to Jean Segura. Braun then homered into the center-field bullpen. It was Braun's second multihomer game of the season and the 20th of his career. Grilli was tagged with the loss, falling to 0-1. It was his second blown save.
"The pitch was not where I wanted it obviously," Grilli said. "A two-seamer, we were trying to bust him in all night, [and I] just left it out over the plate. I'm more [upset] about setting it up by missing with Segura, missing with a breaking pitch that he was able to get over the shortstop's head."
"It's definitely an encouraging sign that we're able to win games that we shouldn't be winning," Braun said. "I don't think we've played very good baseball. We've made a lot of mistakes. I don't know how many errors we've made exactly, but we've made plenty more mistakes. On the bases, defensively, offensively -- we really haven't played well. But sometimes good teams find a way to win, and these are the types of games that we wouldn't have won over the last couple years. So, definitely encouraging.
"Facing adversity, facing Jason Grilli, you know you've got your hands full. He's one of the best relievers in baseball and has been over the last few years. I was fortunate I was able to get the barrel to it."
Grilli had 17 straight scoreless appearances vs. Milwaukee since 2007.
"Things are going really well when you play the way we have the last two games and you win the games," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "You know things are going well. Something's going really well. Either the pitching is going really well, or the offense is to allow yourself to get ahead and win ballgames. Those things are going really well."
Bucs lefty Wandy Rodriguez labored through four innings, giving up four runs on six hits. He received a no-decision. Velocity remains a problem, as Rodriguez topped out at 88 mph on the radar gun.
"We saw some good signs," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We didn't handle the ball well enough for him in the third inning. But there were probably more pitches up today than the previous outing, so that was a challenge for him, getting the ball down tonight."
"I'm having a problem with my location," Rodriguez said. "I've got it in my mind to throw the ball down, but I'm missing. I don't know, I missed a lot."
Right-hander Matt Garza started for the Brewers and hurled five innings. He gave up six runs (five earned) on eight hits in a no-decision.
The Brewers went on top, 1-0, in the second inning as Jonathan Lucroy doubled and scored on an RBI single by Khris Davis.
The Pirates bounced right back in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, Ike Davis doubled down the left-field line. Davis, who was making his first start with the Pirates since being acquired Friday in a trade with the Mets, then scored on a single by Neil Walker.
With two outs in the third, the Brewers nicked Rodriguez again. Segura doubled and was then caught in a rundown on a Braun ground ball to third. Second baseman Walker missed a tag on a fielder's choice as Segura got back to second base. Aramis Ramirez singled, knocking in Segura, and Lucroy doubled home Braun to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead.
Mark Reynolds led off the fourth inning with a home run, his fourth of the season, upping the Brewers' lead to 4-1.
The Brewers, who committed four errors on Friday, opened the floodgates in the fourth inning with an error. Andrew McCutchen walked and advanced to second when Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks botched a hard ground ball by Pedro Alvarez. Jose Tabata singled home McCutchen. Davis drew a walk to load the bases. With one out, Clint Barmes stroked a two-run single to center, plating Alvarez and Tabata. Pinch-hitter Travis Snider followed with a two-run single, driving in Davis and Barmes. When the smoke cleared, the Pirates had a 6-4 lead.
"When you can drop five on somebody, that was a big inning," Hurdle said. "A big swing from Barmes, big swing from Snider. We scratched a couple more runs, we actually scored twice with two outs and nobody on, which is a good sign."
The Brewers sliced the Pirates' lead to 6-5 in the fifth inning against Pirates reliever Bryan Morris. Braun singled and eventually came around to score on a groundout by Lucroy.
Pittsburgh added a run in the sixth inning. With two outs, Russell Martin singled and scored on a double by McCutchen to increase the Pirates' lead to 7-5.
The Brewers responded in the seventh as Braun hit a home run off Tony Watson to cut the lead to 7-6.
The normally reliable Pirates bullpen had an off night. Morris pitched two innings and allowed one run. Watson pitched an inning and allowed a run. Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless inning before Grilli blew the save in the ninth.
"We're playing pretty much without a safety net now," Hurdle said. "It's another one-run game and those are decided by execution, and we just have to keep playing and keep battling. The execution tonight wasn't where we needed it to be to win."