The Pittsburgh Pirates have won three games in a row on four different occasions, but they have never won four straight. That trend continued on a chilly Monday evening as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Bucs 5-1 at PNC Park.
Milwaukee righthander Marco Estrada improved his record to 3-2 as he scattered three hits over seven innings and struck out five. He is now 7-3 with a 2.17 ERA in 10 starts against Pittsburgh.
A.J. Burnett gave the Pirates seven innings, striking out six, and giving up four runs. Burnett pushed his National League-leading strikeout total to 72, but did not get enough support from the rest of the team as the Bucs (21-17) had three errors on the night to go along with just four hits. Burnett is now 3-4 on the season.
The night did not start well as Brewers right fielder Norichika Aoki led off the first inning with a double and scored on center fielder Carlos Gomez’s infield RBI single.
Milwaukee (16-20)struck again in the fifth when left fielder Logan Schafer crossed home plate on Aoki’s double to right field with one out. Then, Aoki stole third base. Shortstop Jean Segura singled a soft ground ball back to Burnett on the mound, which scored Aoki from third.
Pittsburgh pushed a run across the plate with one out in the bottom of the seventh as first baseman Gaby Sanchez scored on Pedro Alvarez’s RB -groundout.
The Brew Crew added nondescript insurance runs in the seventh and ninth to make the final score 5-1. Milwaukee stole six bases off the battery of Burnett and Michael McKenry, including three by Segura and two from Aoki.
The Pirates and the Brewers take the field at PNC Park for the second game of their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. Milwaukee will send righthander Kyle Lohse (1-4, 3.53 ERA) to the mound while Pittsburgh will counter with lefthander Jeff Locke (3-1, 2.95).
From The Clipboard: On Sunday, there was enough improvement in Russell Martin’s sore neck that the Bucs opted against activating Tony Sanchez and returned the minor league catcher back to Class AAA Indianapolis….Relief pitcher Jason Grilli has struck out a total of 25 batters in his 15.2 innings of work this season….Alvarez’s double on Sunday afternoon in New York was his first two-bagger of the season….Rick Sofield served as Pittsburgh’s third base coach on Monday in place of Nick Leyva, who left the team for a few days due to personal reasons. Dave Jauss took over Sofield’s place at first base.