Nelson leads Crew in rainy shutout of Bucs
PITTSBURGH -- Heavy rains, Jimmy Nelson and three relievers cooled off the Pirates on Monday-night-into-Tuesday morning, as the Brewers posted a rain-delayed 2-0 victory, the Bucs' first loss in seven games at PNC Park and only their fourth in their last 17 games overall.
Francisco Rodriguez finished off the prolonged shutout for his 359th career save, breaking a tie with former Angels teammate Troy Percival to move into ninth place on the all-time list.
Aramis Ramirez singled and Gerardo Parra doubled off A.J. Burnett to open the fifth, setting up Jean Segura's RBI groundout soon after play resumed following the night's first delay of 28 minutes. After another delay of one hour and 45 minutes, Ryan Braun singled for an eighth-inning insurance run off reliever Antonio Bastardo. Seeing both runs score immediately after the two rain delays was "probably just a coincidence," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
Nelson blanked the Pirates through six innings, dodging four hits and three walks while fanning seven. Nelson has held the Bucs to two earned runs in three starts this season, covering 18 innings.
"He had a big-time finish to his sinker, and depth to the slider he threw," Hurdle said. "He had so much late action [on that pitch], we were not able to do a whole lot with it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gerardo drives one: After Ramirez turned a 2-1 count into a leadoff single, Parra attacked a 90-mph sinker and laced a line drive to the right-field corner for a double. Ramirez would later score on Segura's groundout. Parra, Ramirez and Braun were the only Brewers to finish the game with more than one hit.
Mercer whiffs on opportunity: The Pirates were after Nelson in the fifth, which began with Jung Ho Kang's walk and Francisco Cervelli's single to put men at the corners with none out. Jordy Mercer's ensuing at-bat was key, because his strikeout brought up Burnett, who also fanned (fouling off a two-strike pitch). Gregory Polanco's liner to short then ended the threat.
Burnett can't weather the delay: Pitchers tend to shrug off weather delays as a factor in their performance, but a 28-minute lull in the bottom of the fourth clearly affected Burnett. He had thrown only eight balls (among 45 pitches) through the first four innings, then 14 in the fifth, when the Brewers scored their only run off him.
"No effect on me at all," Burnett said of the delay. "I felt good the whole time. The pitch [to Parra] was exactly where I wanted it."
"Through four innings, he was as efficient and as effective as I've ever seen him. I don't know if the delay had anything to do with it but, at the end of the day, he pitched seven innings and gave up one run" -- Hurdle, on Burnett's effort
"I was just happy that the first delay was short enough where we could leave Jimmy out there, and he gave us six great innings. He was locked in from the start, I thought" -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell, on Nelson
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Burnett struck out six, bringing his career total to 2,440 -- leaving him one behind Jamie Moyer, No. 38 on MLB's all-time list.
CUTCH GETS A BREATHER
Andrew McCutchen was due to take off the final game in San Francisco, followed by Thursday's off-day, to give him consecutive days of rest. But after going 4-for-5 against the Giants the previous night, no way McCutchen was going to sit. He showed Sunday in Atlanta that he needed that blow. Discomfort in his left knee prevented him from running out a likely ninth-inning RBI infield single, although it did not keep him from playing out the Bucs' 3-0 win in center field.
"Andrew had a day off scripted out, but he was so hot he came to me and said, 'I need to go.' I couldn't argue with that," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Then he showed us yesterday … yeah, it's time."
The Pirates successfully challenged a safe call at first in the top of the second inning. Segura was called safe on his two-out grounder to Mercer at short, but the call was overturned on replay review.
Brewers: Taylor Jungmann, a 25-year-old right-hander, will make his MLB debut at 7:05 p.m. ET (6:05 CT) on Tuesday at PNC Park in the second game of the series. Jungmann, a first-round Draft selection in 2011, has worked through trouble this year, but a 3.92 ERA in his last three starts is potentially a sign of things to come.
Pirates: Francisco Liriano will go for his second straight home victory when he takes on the Brewers. His 9-1 decision over the Mets on May 24 followed four winless starts in PNC Park.
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