WP: Tony Watson (5-2); LP: Jared Hughes (3-2); Save - none; HR: Mil - Domingo Santana (16); Pitt: none
It has been painfully obvious over the last two weeks that when Corey Knebel has significant time off between appearances he has difficulty controlling his curveball, to put it kindly. Maybe 10% for strikes? So with one down, nobody on base, and a 2-1 Brewer lead in the bottom of the ninth (thanks to an eighth inning homerun from Domingo Santana), with noted off-speed hitter David Freese at the plate, somehow Knebel threw a 3-2 curve ball - for ball four. A rather predictable result.
The Pirates followed with two singles to tie the score, the game tying hit a duck-snort into right on a two strike fastball to Francisco Cervelli - who was not retired all night. Knebel then retired the last two to send the game to extra innings. To add insult to injury, Knebel finished his blown-save performance without a strikeout, ending his season long streak of a strikeout in each appearance.
It is important to note that the Brewers again failed to produce much offense at all, and when they threatened to pad their lead with two out in the top of they ninth, they ran into an out with a base running blunder from Orlando Arcia. Milwaukee scored in the top of the first when Santana doubled down the third base line and scored on a single from Jesus Aguilar. Travis Shaw followed with a single - three hits in the first four batters - but a popout and a fielder’s choice ended the inning.
From there, the Brewers were entirely shut down by Gerrit Cole. They managed harmless one out singles in the fourth and fifth, while Cole struck out ten and walked none in his seven dominant innings. Juan Nicasio took over the 1-1 game in the top of the eighth and hung a slider to Santana, which Domingo drilled high and deep into the rightfield seats over the 21’ Clemente wall for a 2-1 Brewer lead.
Milwaukee’s ninth started with two outs before Keon Broxton drew a walk on a low 3-2 fastball and Arcia singled to right. Broxton easily beat the throw to third, but Arica went too far around first and was trapped off of the base. Broxton correctly broke for home, but John Jaso’s throw was accurate and Keon was out in a rundown. The batter with first and third and two down would have been Villar, but even so it was preferable to that sad result.
Santana had three of Milwaukee’s eight hits, but the Brewers finished the ten innings with fifteen strikeouts.
The Pirates tied the game in the bottom of the first against Zach Davies on a lead-off single from Starling Marte, an error (Arcia) on what should have been ruled a fielder’s choice but was a single from Josh Harrison, putting runners on second and third. A sacrifice fly from Andrew McCutchen drove in the run. Davies worked into and out of trouble for the rest of the evening, going seven innings and allowing eight hits (seven by my count). He walked one and fanned four. The run he allowed was unearned, but if the scoring decision of a hit for Harrison stands I also think the run should have been earned. It counts, either way.
It looked like Davies would come out for the bottom of the eighth (he only had 89 pitches), but after Santana’s homer Craig Counsell went with Jacob Barnes. Barnes worked a perfect inning with a strikeout.
Jared Hughes got the tenth after the Brewers went up and down in order in the top of the inningh. He struck out Marte, but gave up a ground rule double to Harrison. McCutchen was waved to first with an intentional walk, and Harrison took third on a flyball to center by John Jaso. .115 hitting Max Manoff got the game-winner with a bloop to shallow center, and the Brewers went down for the third straight time in the Pittsburgh series, and fourth straight time over-all.
The Cubs won again, 8-2 over Atlanta, an move to within 1½ games of the Brewers. The Pirates are within four games. Tomorrow, Milwaukee (52-45) sends Jimmy Nelson (8-4, 3.27) out as their stopper in tomorrow’s afternoon tilt. He will face Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon (5-3, 3.06), a genuine feel-good story after his bout with testicular cancer was treated with surgery earlier this season. St. Louis lost and remains 4½ out.