Pirates Locke down 1st 'W' while Brewers stuck winless
MILWAUKEE -- The ranks of the Major League's winless teams were certain to shrink here Friday night. But, just as surely, one of the teams would be looking at an 0-4 opening hand -- and that's what the Pirates dealt the Brewers with a 6-2 victory in Miller Park behind the pitching of Jeff Locke and homers by Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte.
Brewers starter Mike Fiers was on fire out of the gate, striking out the side in the first on 12 pitches, but he fell into a 3-0 hole in the second, when Alvarez singled for a run and Locke helped his own cause with an RBI double.
"It's easier to go out there and pitch with a lead," Locke said of the quick uprising. "The good thing was, it happened fast. It wasn't like I had to sit in the dugout for 30 minutes waiting for our guys to finish running the bases."
While Locke spaced seven hits in allowing two runs in six innings, the right side of the Bucs' infield combined to record five hits, score three runs and drive in two. Alvarez's two hits included his second homer, and second baseman Neil Walker went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles.
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Braun returns with loud bat: After two missed games and one off-day to get over a strain to his rib cage, Ryan Braun was back in the Brewers' lineup, and it took 400 feet of outfield space to keep him off the bases in the fourth, when he flied out to the base of the center-field fence. He singled in the fifth.
Marte makes the sacrifice: With a sacrifice fly in the fifth, Marte gave the Pirates a 5-2 lead and shed a big albatross. In 2014, Marte had the second-most at-bats in the National League (495) without a single sacrifice fly. Only the Reds' Zack Cozart had more, with 506 at-bats. All told, Marte went 822 at-bats since his last SF on May 26, 2013 -- in Milwaukee.
"It was a very good night for us, in being fundamentally sound with the bat," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Marte had three good at-bats: The bunt attempt for a hit that went for a sacrifice [in the second], the sacrifice fly, then the big fly [in the eighth]."
Brewers' patience, Gennett both run out: The Brewers' growing frustration over the tough start to their season reached a little boiling point in the eighth inning, when Scooter Gennett took an inning-ending third strike from Arquimedes Caminero, with two runners on base, raised his bat overhead with both hands and slammed it to the ground. The bat cracked, and home-plate umpire Mike Estabrook immediately ejected Gennett, who went 0-for-3, dropping his average to .077. More >
"We were within three minutes of landing in Milwaukee, and we decided to go to Chicago and get some pizza. Thin crust," -- Hurdle, on the detour the Pirates' charter flight took Thursday night on its way from Cincinnati to Milwaukee -- not because of pizza, but because of thunderstorms in the region.
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Adam Lind went 2-for-3, giving him eight hits through the Brewers' first four games to tie a club record set in 1978 by Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and first tied by Damian Miller in 2005.
With his RBI double in the second, Locke reached 50 percent of Pirates pitchers' extra-base hits in all of 2014 -- a home run by Gerrit Cole and a double by Vance Worley. Both the double and the RBI were the first of Locke's career.
Pirates: Worley, set to start the season in the bullpen until he was needed in the rotation when Charlie Morton (recovering from labrum surgery) went on the disabled list, will seek his first Miller Park victory in four decisions when he faces the Brewers at 6:10 p.m. CT. Despite a 1-3 lifetime record against Milwaukee, one of his best starts of 2014 came late against the Brewers, when he blanked them on four hits for eight innings on Sept. 21.
Brewers: Jimmy Nelson, whose rotation spot was cleared by the trade of Yovani Gallardo to Texas, gets his first start, and his first chance to erase the memory of being hit hard in Spring Training, when he faces the Pirates at 6:10 p.m. CT. Nelson, both the Brewers Minor League and the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year, allowed 26 hits in 17 1/3 spring innings.
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