The Pittsburgh Pirates got home runs from Andrew McCutchen in the first inning and Travis Snider in the ninth in defeating the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 on Tuesday night at Miller Park.
The victory was the Pirates’ 81st of the season, officially ending the franchise’s streak of 20 straight losing seasons and making it four straight wins for the Bucs in Milwaukee, where they lost 17 in a row from 2008-09.
Snider, who was pinch-hitting for Vin Mazzaro in the top of the ninth, blasted a 2-2 pitch from Brewers’ righthander Jim Henderson (3-5) over the right-center field wall for his second pinch-hit home run of the season. In the bottom of the inning, Mark Melancon retired the first two Milwaukee batters before allowing a double to Scooter Gennett, but the Pirates’ top reliever fanned Khris Davis to end the game.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (81-57) are now two games ahead of the second-place St. Louis Cardinals (79-59) in the National League Central and 3 1/2 games ahead of the third-place Cincinnati Reds (78-61). The Reds shut out the Cards 1-0 on Tuesday in Cincy.
Pirates starter Gerrit Cole went six innings and gave up two earned runs on five hits. The young righthander struck out five and walked only one on 92 pitches. Mazzaro answered the call to the bullpen and pitched the seventh and eighth innings, allowing a game-tying single to Jean Segura after Marlon Byrd had put the Bucs ahead 3-2. Melancon picked up his 11th save of the season.
McCutchen got Pittsburgh on the scoreboard at the top of the first when he blasted a two-out solo home run to left-center field. It was his 18th of the season and the 100th of his career. The center fielder has become just the sixth player in team history to hit at least 100 home runs and steal at least 100 bases in his career.
Milwaukee took the lead back in the bottom of the first when with nobody out, Jonathan Lucroy singled to right field, scoring Norichika Aoki and Segura.
The Bucs tied it up 2-2 in the top of the third when Byrd singled to right to score McCutchen with two out. Byrd has now hit safely in six of his first seven games with Pittsburgh.
In the top of the eighth, Byrd doubled to left field to again score McCutchen to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead.
But the lead was short-lived when, in the bottom of the eighth, Segura singled to center field off Mazzaro, scoring Caleb Gindl with one out to tie it back up at 3-3.
Milwaukee righthander Yovani Gallardo gave up two earned runs on five hits over seven innings of work. He struck out six and walked three on 104 pitches.
The final game of the three-game series with Milwaukee will be at 8:10 p.m. Wednesday. The Brewers (59-79) will send righthander Wily Peralta (8-14, 4.51 ERA) to the hill while the Pirates will counter with lefthander Francisco Liriano (15-6, 2.57 ERA).
The 29-year-old will be making his 22th start of the season on Wednesday; he is 8-3 with a 1.68 ERA in 11 starts this season against the National League Central. The game will be broadcast on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: Clint Hurdle’s crew has posted a 36-32 record on the road this season and is one of just eight major league teams with a winning road record…Pedro Alvarez had most of the night off, but leads the NL in home runs with 32. The last Bucco to the league in home runs was Willie Stargell with 44 back in 1973…Newly acquired first baseman Justin Morneau went 3 for 3 on the night for Pittsburgh.