"Desperate for a victory, they just kept fighting tonight. They knew they needed this victory and didn't have any quit in them." These are the cliches typically used for a team in a playoff race, but Tuesday night they described the Brewers as they pulled out a back and forth game against the Pirates.
The Brewers loaded the bases in the first inning with no outs, but were only able to manage a single run. After two infield hits from Norichika Aoki and Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy walked to load the bases for Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez was able to score Aoki from third, but unfortunately he scored the run on a double play to the shortstop.
Ramirez put the second run on the board in the fourth inning on a home run to left-center field.
The Brewers added to their lead with three runs after two outs in the fifth inning. With Scooter Gennett and Aoki on base, Lucroy came through with a two-out single to score Gennett from second on a nice slide at home plate. Following Lucroy, Ramirez hooked a ball into left field that bounced off the glove of Jose Tabata before falling for a two-run double to give the Brewers a 5-0 lead.
Kyle Lohse was able to avoid any damage through the first four innings, but things started to unravel in the fifth inning after a misplay by Aoki in right field. Lohse looked to be out of the inning on a flyout to right field, but Aoki was not able to secure the third out of the inning and Andrew Lambo scored the Pirates first run on a double from Felix Pie. After Tabata singled to extend the inning, Neil Walker homered to right to cut the Brewers lead to a single run.
The bad breaks continued for Lohse in the next inning and the Pirates tied the game. After the first out of the inning, an easy groundball to Yuniesky Betancourt took a wild hop and jumped over his head. After a Jody Mercer single to right field, Pie came to the plate and hit a hard groundball near Betancourt that deflected off his glove and found its way to right field. The groundball scored Lambo from third and forced the Brewers to remove Lohse with the game tied at five. Rob Wooten came in for Lohse and escaped the inning without further damage on a flyout by Garrett Jones and a strikeout from Walker.
The Brewers wasted no time taking the lead right back from the Pirates. With a force out and an overaggressive running error from Segura, Jonathan Lucroy singled and stole second base to put himself into scoring position with two outs. Ramirez came to the plate and continued his hot night with a single to center to score Lucroy and give the Brewers a 6-5 lead.
Wooten returned in the bottom of the seventh and the Pirates promptly tied the game back up on a home run from Pedro Alvarez that banged off the foul pole in right field.
In the eighth inning, the Brewers were able to take the lead once again. With one out, Betancourt doubled to left field to start the rally. Gennett followed Betancourt with a bunt single to put runners on first and third for pinch-hitter Caleb Gindl. Gindl drove the ball to right field to score Betancourt on a sacrifice fly and give the Brewers a 7-6 lead.
Brandon Kintzler pitched a perfect eighth inning to get the Brewers to the ninth inning. After getting the first out in the bottom of the ninth, Andrew McCutchen hit a ball just past Ramirez at third and advanced to second when the ball rolled into shallow left field. Henderson walked Alvarez before getting Russell Martin to fly out to center and Gaby Sanchez to ground out to Jean Segura for the final out of the game.
The Brewers will take on the Pirates again tomorrow night in the second game of their three game series. Tom Gorzelanny will take the mound for the Brewers after struggling mightily in his last two starts. He will face off against Charlie Morton for the Pirates. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.