MILWAUKEE -- Two hitters into the game, Ivan Nova looked like he might be in for a long night. Turns out, he wasn't.After giving up a home run to Christian Yelich with one out in the first, Nova allowed just three hits over the next five-plus innings to propel the
MILWAUKEE -- Two hitters into the game, Ivan Nova looked like he might be in for a long night. Turns out, he wasn't.
After giving up a home run to Christian Yelich with one out in the first, Nova allowed just three hits over the next five-plus innings to propel the Pirates to a 3-1 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park on Saturday.
"You want to finish [the season] strong, no matter who you're facing," Nova said. "I just wanted to finish strong, and then I got the job done."
Nova, who tossed six scoreless innings in his previous start, struck out four and walked one to even his record at 9-9. His consecutive victories have come on the heels of three straight losses. Felipe Vazquez wiggled out of two-on, no-out jam in the ninth inning for his 23rd consecutive save and 33rd of the season.
"Really good fastball command and was able to work in his curveball, as well," manager Clint Hurdle said of Nova. "The changeup may have been the difference maker for him tonight with all the left-handers they had in the lineup, and these guys have seen him a few times."
Nova's night appeared as though it could've gotten worse later in the Brewers' lineup, as second baseman Travis Shaw entered the game 12-for-16 with three home runs in his career against Nova. Nova retired Shaw on a groundout to short in the first inning, struck him out in the fourth and induced a flyout to right to end the sixth with a runner on base.
"It's not just trouble. It's been hard, and he knows it," Hurdle said of Nova's struggles against Shaw. "That's the beauty of the game. The competition, the next opportunity. He got balls where he wanted to, located well, changed speeds effectively, as well. That was good to see."
The Pirates erased the 1-0 deficit with RBI doubles in the second and fourth innings off Milwaukee starter Zach Davies. Colin Moran sliced an opposite-field RBI double into the left-field corner to drive in Corey Dickerson in the second inning. In the fourth, Josh Bell legged out a single on a grounder to Shaw, which was followed by Francisco Cervelli lining another double down the left-field line, which Bell scored on thanks to a head-first slide just ahead of throw.
The Pirates made it 3-1 in the sixth after Starling Marte doubled to open and Bell walked. They executed a double steal, with Marte continuing home when the throw from catcher Erik Kratz to second base bounced into center field.
After Richard Rodriguez and Kyle Crick each threw a scoreless inning, Vazquez came on in the ninth and was greeted by Ryan Braun's pinch-hit single to right, and Jesus Aguilar followed with a single to left-center. Mike Moustakas then lined to short, with Braun narrowly avoiding being doubled off second base. Pinch-hitter Domingo Santana flied out to center, with Braun advancing to third, but Vazquez ended the game by striking out Jonathan Schoop.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Before Vazquez's great escape in the ninth inning, Rodriguez dealt with trouble of his own when he relieved Nova in the seventh with a 3-1 lead. He promptly surrendered a double to Aguilar, who then advanced to third on a wild pitch with no outs. But Rodriguez kept the Brewers off the board, striking out Moustakas, retiring Kratz on popup to first, and striking out pinch-hitter Schoop on three pitches.
CERVELLI, HURDLE EJECTED
Cervelli was ejected in the sixth inning by home-plate umpire Tripp Gibson III after being called out on strikes. Pittsburgh had already scored in the inning off Brewers reliever Jacob Barnes and had a runner on second base when Cervilli fell behind 1-2 and fouled off two pitches. He took a ball to even the count but then was called out on a fastball on the inside corner. Hurdle came out and also was ejected by Gibson.
Right-hander Trevor Williams (12-9, 3.28 ERA) starts the series finale against the Brewers on Sunday at Miller Park, with first pitch set for 2:10 p.m. ET. Williams is 5-2 with a 1.32 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break. He is 3-0 in his last four road starts and didn't allow a run in three of those outings. Milwaukee will counter with Jhoulys Chacin (14-7, 3.54), who is 0-2 with a 2.28 ERA in four starts against Pittsburgh this season.
Jim Hoehn is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee.