Playing what amounted to be their second game of the day, the Pittsburgh Pirates had every reason to be a tired team Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Their offense did its best to look the part.
The Bucs amounted only three hits on the night as Yovani Gallardo and the Milwaukee Brewers blanked the Pirates 6-0 in a game the Bucs really couldn’t afford to lose.
After last night’s late start the team didn’t arrive back in Pittsburgh until almost 5 a.m. While that’s no excuse, it could have had an impact on tonight’s game.
A.J. Burnett started for the Bucs and battled through without his best stuff. The leadoff hitter reached in five of Burnett’s six innings and he was always in trouble but still allowed only two runs on seven hits. The two runs allowed were all the more impressive when you consider Burnett also walked two and hit two.
Norichika Aoki singled in the game’s first run with bases loaded in the second, thanks to a hit batter and a walk from Burnett. But he was able to throw up zeroes until the sixth when Jean Segura delivered an RBI single to make it 2-0.
Gallardo (16-8) struck out six and walked four to win his eighth straight decision as Milwaukee moved in front of the fading Pirates in the jumbled National League wild-card race. Both teams entered play Tuesday night only 2.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.
It turned out to be an easy night for Gallardo, who only allowed a pair of hits in 6.2 innings and only faced one jam on the night, but despite the Bucs loading the bases in the second inning with two outs, Gallardo was able to get his mound opponent to ground out to second to end the threat.
After a walk to Rod Barajas in the second inning, Gallardo cruised into the seventh, retiring 14 consecutive Pirates batters.
Ryan Braun had two hits, drove in a run and stole three bases for the Brewers, who have won six of seven. Milwaukee’s seven stolen bases were the most by the franchise since it moved to the National League in 1998. Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy had three hits apiece for the Brewers.
The night followed a similar theme. The Brewers would get on base with a single, as all 13 of their hits were singles, then get into scoring position by taking off for second at the first opportunity. Eventually the strategy worked out against the Pirates’ bullpen.
Braun singled in Rickie Weeks, who singled and stole second in the seventh and then after Braun stole second, he came around to score on a single by Lucroy to make it a 4-0 game.
They struck twice more in the eighth as well on an RBI single off the bat of Segura and a sacrifice fly from Aoki.
Neil Walker had two of the Pirates hits on the night and Clint Barmes had one.
Milwaukee trailed Pittsburgh by nine games during its last visit to PNC Park in late August, but have since jumped ahead of the free falling Pirates.
Winning Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo (16-8)
Losing Pitcher: A.J. Burnett (15-8)
Home Runs: None
Up Next: Wednesday, September 19 vs. Milwaukee Brewers at 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starters: Marco Estrada (3-6, 3.77 ERA) at Kyle McPherson (0-0, 1.54)