The Brewers were walked off by an unearned run for the second straight game, losing to the Pirates on a throwing error in the bottom of the ninth.
Brewers’ starter Junior Guerra might have been a little strong after his long lay-off. He was hitting 96 and 97 on his fastball, but not locating it well. Combine that with an inability to control his splitter and you have a two walk, two run first for the Pirates. David Freese drove in the first with a jam shot single to right, and a sacrifice fly to right from Francisco Cervelli plated the second.
Junior settled down and worked around a two out error in the third by Jonathan Villar and a walk and infield single in the fourth.
Guerra never gained his command of the splitter and more or less abandoned it except as a show-me pitch, but his fastball was still at 96 in the sixth. He worked in the cutter and a few curve balls, and the Pirates were off balance much of the evening. He finished his six innings with three hits allowed, walked three, and fanned six. That was the Brewers third great start in a row.
Corey Knebel relieved Guerra for the seventh, and allowed a lead-off triple to Jody Mercer. He then retired three straight lefties on a dribbler down third that Mercer held on and two strikeouts.
Jeremy Jeffress made his first appearance in nine days in the eighth, and the rust showed. He got ahead of Andrew McCutchen with two curve balls but ended up walking him. Starling Marte grounded slowly to second but Villar made his second error of the night by dropping Gennett’s throw for a force. Freese gave the infield a second chance by grounding again to Gennett, and the Brewers turned this one for a double play. Cervelli struck out on three pitches to end the inning. I would guess that Jeffress has one of the highest double plays per inning pitched among pitchers, starters or relievers, this year.
The Brewers failed to score in the first despite two two-out singles by Ryan Braun and Jonathon Lucroy when Chris Carter swung and missed at two curve balls and took a third for strike three.
The top of the second saw a very scary moment when Hernan Perez lined one back up the middle off of Pirates starter Jameson Taillon’s head. Taillon managed to turn towards first, and it caromed off the back of his head into medium left field. Exit velocity off the bat was measured at 102 mph. Taillon went straight to the ground and stayed there, but after several minutes he surprisingly stayed in the game.
The Brewers finally broke through in the top of the fourth. For some reason the Pirates threw Carter a fastball over the plate, and he ripped it into the gap in left center for a lead-off double. Two ground outs scored Carter, with Perez getting the RBI, bringing the Brewers within 2-1.
Taillon finished with six innings, five hits, no walks, three strikeouts, and the one run. Neftali Feliz struck out two in his one perfect inning of relief, and Tony Watson survived early wildness (he walked Jake Elmore on four pitches) by getting a double play ball from Villar and striking out Scooter Gennett.
Mark Melancon had the ninth, and walked Braun to lead off the inning. Lucroy singled up the middle, with Braun stopping at second. Carter fanned (on a curve ball, natch), and Kirk Nieuwenhuis swung and missed at three high fastballs (it seems opponents know how to get some of the Brewers out). But Hernan Perez shook off a bad strike two call to drive a single up the middle and tie the game. Hernan had both RBI and two hits tonight. Lucroy took third, and Perez second. Melancon retired Ramon Flores on a popout to short to send the game to the bottom of the ninth tied at two.
Tyler Thornburg took the hill for the bottom of the ninth, coming off a tough luck loss Sunday in Cincinnati. His tough luck continued when Josh Harrison’s drive to the wall in right center eluded Nieuwenhuis (he got there, but took his eye off the ball as he approached the wall). Harrison ran hard all the way, and when he tried for third Gennett’s relay hit Harrison and went into the dugout, scoring Harrison. Gennett’s errant throw was the Brewers’ middle infielders’ third error of the game.
Watching the quality of at bats from Will Middlebrooks and Hernan Perez makes me wonder why Middlebrooks sees the field.
Tomorrow the Brewers (39-52) send Chase Anderson (really!) to the mound with his 4-10, 5.44 ERA line against the Pirates’ (48-45) Jeff Locke (8-5, 5.26). Game time is again 6:05 Central Time.