The Pirates jumped out to an early lead and managed to hang on to it on Sunday afternoon as they completed a series win at Miller Park.
They did it with production throughout lineup, including at the bottom. Michael McKenry and Jordy Mercer both took advantage of rare starts, combining to reach base six times with two extra base hits. Mercer’s 2nd inning triple drove home an early run, and the middle of the lineup helped out in the third when Starling Marte doubled, Neil Walker was HBP, Cutch hit into a FC, Garrett Jones hit a sac fly, Gaby Sanchez walked, and Pedro Alvarez doubled down the line for two more runs. 4-0 Bucs.
Wandy Rodriguez was excellent and very efficient for the first four innings, and it looked like the Bucs might settle in to cruise control with a four run lead. In the fifth, though, three singles (including a key misplay by Walker where he broke the wrong way) loaded the bases for Ryan Braun, who grounded a double down the line to clear the bases. That ended up being a very long inning and ruined Wandy’s pitch count, so he had to come out after five. He did get a huge K of Aramis Ramirez to prevent further damange.
The bullpen did a fine job taking things the rest of the way. Vin Mazzaro was the unsung hero of the game, posting two scoreless frames to bridge the gap to the eighth. Things got dicey in the seventh, but Braun’s bouncer up the middle ended up going right to Walker, who was covering for a stolen base.
The early offense knocked Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo out after just four innings, which was excellent, but the Bucs didn’t get much done against the bullpen despite a couple threats. They responded to the Brewers’ 3-run fifth with a run in the sixth on a Fort double and Marte sac fly, which was big. Mark Melancon allowed a 1-out triple (thanks to a strange bounce off the wall down the RF line) which turned in to a run, but Jason Grilli had no problems in yet another save (#20) in the ninth.
Even though the Brewers stink, it’s still big to win a series at Miller Park. The Bucs are continuing to pitch very well and have seen the bats come to life a little bit over the past two games. They’ll need to keep it up, as the next stretch (Detroit, Cinci, Atlanta) is going to be extremely difficult. For now, though, enjoy it. The Bucs have 31 wins before Memorial Day. They’ve tied the Reds for second place and are close to the Cardinals. They can beat the Brewers now. They’re back on pace for 100 wins. Only Texas (and St. Louis, if they win today) has more wins than the Pirates. Remarkable.
Pirates 5, Brewers 4 / Box / 2013 Record: 31-19 / Next: Monday, at Tigers, 1:08