WP: Zach Davies (14-6); LP: Ivan Nova (10-10); Save: Corey Knebel (23); Homeruns: Pitt, none; Mil - Keon Broxton (17)
The Milwaukee Brewers finally won one of those close ones against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 3-1 pitchers duel win at Miller Park. Zach Davies out-dueled Ivan Nova for his fourteenth win.
The Brewers scored the first run of the night and probably wondered how they didn’t manage to score more. Ivan Nova Dominator Travis Shaw singled to center leading off the bottom of the third, and Domingo Santana came back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk. Neil Walker hit a grounder to Josh Bell at first, and Bell made his contribution to the inning with a high throw to second, loading the bases with nobody down and Manny Pina up. Pina pulled one into the hole between third and short that Jordy Mercer backhanded. His flip to a retreating David Freese at third base easily beat Santana, but Shaw scored the game’s first run. With runners at first and second Eric Sogard grounded sharply to second for an easy double play, ending the inning.
After two perfect innings Davies pitched into and out of trouble for the rest of the night. Two singles by the Bucs in the third led to naught, and in the top of the fourth a two out single to right by Adam Frazier sent Bell to third, and Santana’s ill-advised throw to third got by Shaw. Bell tried to score, and Shaw’s throw to the plate beat him easily to end the inning. In the fifth Zach hit Mercer in the leg (BA and Rock thought it was in retribution for Nova hitting Shaw in his second at bat, but it looked like an off-speed pitch to me...but then, it was Davies pitching). Chris Stewart singled on a hit and run, putting runners on first and third. Nova got down a sacrifice to put runners at second and third with one down and the top of the order up. Davies got out of it with a soft liner to second by Starling Marte, and Josh Harrison bounced out to short.
Davies luck ran out in the top of the sixth. A walk and a two out triple down the rightfield line by Frazier tied it up. A grounder to second by Mercer ended the frame, but the game was knotted at one.
Milwaukee didn’t waste any time taking the lead back, and it was a very close thing. Nova gave up trying to get Shaw out or hitting him by walking him (well, it was a 3-2 count on the walk, but still) with one down. Travis got second on a passed ball and took third on Santana’s groundout. With lefties hitting Nova north of .300 this year, Walker was intentionally sent to first, leaving runners at the corners with two down. Pina again pulled one between third and short, and Freese dove and tipped the ball. Mercer grabbed it and his throw would have beaten Manny, but Bell came off the bag stretching for the throw. Pina had a hit and his second RBI of the night, and both of the Brewers first two runs had big assists from Josh Bell’s fielding prowess, or lack thereof.
Davies got the first two in the seventh but gave up a single to Marte. Craig Counsell went with groundball specialist Jared Hughes against Harrison, and the move worked when Josh bounced one back to Hughes.
Keon Broxton pinch-hit for a homerun and a BMIR leading off the bottom of the seventh for the final 3-1 lead. Ryan Braun also singled in the inning, extending his hitting streak to nine games.
Jacob Barnes had a perfect eighth with two strikeouts, including a strikeout of Andrew McCutchen where he blew strike three by him at 100 mph. Corey Knebel earned his 23rd save with a walk and a strikeout in the ninth.
Eric Sogard played short for Orlando Arcia tonight, as Arcia dealt with back spasms. It would make sense to hold him out tomorrow, too, and with an off game Thursday it would be a four day rest for Lando.
Milwaukee (62-59) picked up a game on all three teams tonight as Boston thumped the Cards (including a triple play groundball from Yadier Molina), and the Reds held off the Cubs for a 2-1 nailbiter at Wrigley. The Brewers are tied with St. Louis a game and a half back of Chicago, with the Pirates remaining 4½ back. Pittsburgh ace Gerrit Cole (10-8, 3.96) goes for the Pirates tomorrow afternoon, facing Brewers’ ace Jimmy Nelson (9-6, 3.72).