Pedro Alvarez blasted a pair of home runs, part of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ four-homer attack in a 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday afternoon at Miller Park.
Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker also sent balls over the wall at the homer-friendly venue, backing up another effective start from Pirates rookie Jeff Locke. The lefthander pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out seven while reducing his earned-run average to 2.45.
After losing 2-1 in Milwaukee on Friday night, the Pirates (30-19) evened the three-game series in a ballpark that has been especially cruel to them in the past several seasons. Pittsburgh has won nine of 13, remaining in a second-place tie with Cincinnati in the NL Central.
Carlos Gomez hit two solo bombs for fourth-place Milwaukee (19-28). Righthanded starter Mike Fiers lasted just four innings, allowing three of the Bucs’ round-trippers despite fanning five.
McCutchen went 2 for 4, including a line-drive homer down the left-field line in the first inning. The all-star center fielder has seven blasts on the year and has boosted his triple-slash line to .294/.354/.489 with a recent run of great production.
Alvarez ripped a two-run shot to right in the second, boosting the Pirates’ lead to 3-0. Neil Walker, who was on base for the homer, teed off himself in the fourth, sending a Fiers offering deep into the bleachers in right-center.
Gomez got the Brewers on the board against reliever Justin Wilson, but Mark Melancon (0.69 ERA) turned in a perfect bottom of the eighth, appearing to set the stage for Jason Grilli to go for his MLB-best 20th save.
Instead, Alvarez bopped his team-leading 10th homer off Alfredo Figaro in the ninth to cancel the save situation. The Bucco third baseman just missed sending the titanic shot into the third seating deck in right field.
Despite allowing Gomez’ second dinger of the day, Tony Watson polished off the rare win in Milwaukee. After losing their first two games this season at Miller Park by a combined 22-12 score, the Pirates have won two of their last three in Wisconsin.
The Pirates will go for their sixth win in 10 tries against the Brewers on Sunday afternoon at 2:10 Eastern time, as Wandy Rodriguez will oppose Yovani Gallardo. The pair hooked up two Wednesdays ago at PNC Park, with Rodriguez and the Bucs prevailing 3-1.