Wins don’t come easily for the Pittsburgh Pirates in Milwaukee, so what they did Wednesday night was rather shocking.
Light-hitting Chris Stewart singled in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning against Brewers ace reliever Francisco Rodriguez and Starling Marte added two more with a double, earning a 4-1 victory for the Pirates at Miller Park.
Pittsburgh, which lost 5-2 in the series opener Tuesday, is still 2-7 against the National League Central-leading Milwaukee, including 1-4 in Milwaukee. However, the Pirates (17-22) are now in position to sneak out of Wisconsin with a series win.
Francisco Liriano had a lot to do with Wednesday’s result, as the Bucs lefty threw six innings of one-run ball while striking out seven. Bryan Morris, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon followed up with scoreless frames out of the bullpen, a welcome sight in an difficult early-season stretch for Pirates relievers.
Brewers starter Wily Peralta did Liriano one better, tossing seven innings and limiting the Pirates to Jose Tabata‘s run-scoring fielder’s choice in the fourth. Jeff Biachi’s sacrifice fly knotted the score in the fifth; a pair of double plays started by third baseman Pedro Alvarez helped keep Milwaukee (25-15) from adding on.
In the top of the ninth, Ike Davis and Jordy Mercer rapped back-to-back singles off Rodriguez with one out. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle pinch-ran Clint Barmes for the plodding Davis, and the move paid off when Stewart lined a hit to center field. The play at the plate was close enough to justify using Barmes, who ended up playing first base in the bottom half.
Before that, though, Marte launched a high breaking ball from Rodriguez over center fielder Elian Herrera‘s head and over the wall to make it 4-1 Pittsburgh. After Melancon danced around a two-out single from Bianchi, the Pirates had broken a two-game losing streak.
Alvarez and Ike Davis had two hits each for Pittsburgh; McCutchen reached twice and scored the Bucs’ first run after walking and advancing to third on Alvarez’ single. Khris Davis answered back with a leadoff double in the fifth off Liriano, then moved to third on an error by Davis at first base.