Miller Park has been the place where the Pittsburgh Pirates have been left for dead, and the Milwaukee Brewers played unfriendly hosts once again, scoring the final four runs to win a 12-8 slugfest Tuesday night.James McDonald got the start for the Pirates and it potentially was a meaningful one for him. It was at Miller Park that McDonald first pitched to open the second half of the 2012 season and Pirates fans know how rough a second half it was for the righty.
The Pirates got on the board first just like in game one when Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single to plate Starling Marte. The inning was more about what could have been though as the Pirates were unable to score anything further despite loading the bases with one out.
McDonald had difficulties with his control all game, walking more batters (five) than he struck out (three). Four of those walks came in the first two innings, and the Brewers made him pay.
Following two walks, Martin Maldonado hit a double that scored both Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez. One batter later Maldonado scored as pitcher Marco Estrada singled, helping his own cause and giving his team a two-run lead.
The Pirates tied the game in the next half inning thanks to the bat of Gaby Sanchez. He hit an opposite-field home run to plate McCutchen; it was the fourth of the year for Sanchez.
It did not stay tied for long, as a Weeks double was coupled with a Gomez double, meaning the Brewers were on top once again 4-3.
The Brewers built their lead in the fourth inning on three straight hits, the last two a Jonathan Lucroy double and Weeks single adding three runs.
Home run derby continued in the fifth inning when Russell Martin continued to swing a hot bat with a solo homer, his sixth to center. The next batter McCutchen added a solo shot of his own, his third of the campaign to cut the lead to 7-5.
In a bright spot for McDonald, he pitched a perfect fifth inning before giving way to the bullpen. He would leave with the lead as Brandon Inge and Clint Barmes singled. Soon after Estrada was out and replaced by Burke Badenhop. That proved to be a mistake as the first batter he faced, Marte, hit what was initially ruled a double.
Upon replay and urging by Pirates manager Clint Hurdle to look at said replay was ruled a homer run, giving the Pirates an 8-7 lead on Marte’s second blast of the season.
Vin Mazzaro would come in to replace McDonald in the sixth and Jean Segura led off the inning with his third home run of the season. Following two more hits, Mazzaro looked as though he may have been hurt, but he threw a warm-up pitch and signaled that he was fine.
Hurdle had other ideas and replaced him with Bryan Morris. With Ryan Braun on third with two outs, Gomez hit a hard ball that was robbed by Sanchez, who made a leaping grab to secure the tie.
The Pirates had a golden opportunity in the top of the seventh inning with runners on first and second and Tom Gorzelanny on the mound, however Garrett Jones struck out and Pedro Alvarez grounded into a double play, ending the threat.
With Morris still in, Yuniesky Betancourt led off the bottom of the seventh with a home run, his sixth of the year giving his team the 9-8 lead.
John Axford pitched an adventurous eighth inning but escaped after Martin grounded out to second base. The Brewers then added insurance as Weeks hit his second home run of the year, a three-run shot off Tony Watson.
Jim Henderson pitched the ninth inning for Milwaukee and set the Pirates down in order.
The Pirates hope to take one game in the series when Jeanmar Gomez (1-0 2.63) makes his first start as a Pirate against Hiram Burgos (1-0 3.27). The game is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET.