It’s been quite some time since the Pittsburgh Pirates could claim they have taken back-to-back games from the Milwaukee Brewers, but thanks to seven strong innings from Wandy Rodriguez, the Bucs did exactly that, defeating the Brewers 3-1 Wednesday night at PNC Park.
Rodriguez scattered only six hits while striking out five and managed to escape a leadoff triple off the bat of Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy in the fourth, which turned out to be big as Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo was equally as tough.
Gallardo, who typically owns the Bucs, allowed only three hits through six innings of work, but the Pirates finally got to him in the sixth.
Starling Marte led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch. After Gallardo struck out Jose Tabata, both Andrew McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez walked to load the bases.
Coming through with men on base has been a problem for the Pirates, who had only one hit in their last 31 at bats with runners in scoring position, but Neil Walker changed that.
In his second game back from the disabled list, Walker jumped on a Gallardo fastball and laced a two-run since up the middle that plated Marte and McCutchen to give the Bucs a 2-0 lead.
With the way Rodriguez was dealing on the night, that was enough.
Brewers’ second baseman Rickie Weeks provided the only damage off Rodriguez as he hit a solo homer in the seventh to make it a 2-1 game, but the Bucs tacked on an insurance run in the eighth.
After stealing third base, McCutchen scored when Walker reached on a throwing error by Weeks.
As usual the Pirates bullpen closed things out with ease.
Mark Melancon continued his tremendous work out of the pen with a perfect eighth and Jason Grilli nailed down the ninth to record his 16th save of the season.
The win improves the Bucs to a season-high six games over .500.
The Pirates have the chance to do the unthinkable – take three of four from Milwaukee – when the series concludes Thursday night. Francisco Liriano (1-0, 1.69 ERA) is scheduled to make his second start of the season for the Pirates and will oppose Milwaukee’s Hiram Burgos (1-1, 6.86).
Winning Pitcher: Wandy Rodriguez (4-2)
Losing Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo (3-3)
Save: Jason Grilli (16)
Home Runs: Rickie Weeks (3)