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Milwaukee Brewers hit too many homers, somehow still sweep Pirates

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It was an exciting back-and-forth affair today.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Box Score

The Milwaukee Brewers entered today’s contest against the Pirates hoping to complete a two-game sweep and extend their winning streak to four games. They sent Jimmy Nelson, who has been their best starter this season, out to the mound but he didn’t have his best stuff today.

Nelson allowed a lead-off hit to Starling Marte in the first inning, who would move up to third when Jimmy himself threw wildly on an attempted pickoff. He would later score on a two-out single - a theme for Pittsburgh today - to give the Pirates a quick 1-0 lead.

Nelson ran into trouble once again in the third. With two outs, Marte, Josh Harrison, Andrew McCutchen, Josh Bell, and David Freese all reached base in consecutive at-bats to plate three more runs to push the score to 4-0.

Milwaukee’s offense sprang to life in the bottom of the inning. Keon Broxton hit a home run to lead off the inning, his 18th of the season, to make it 4-1. After a Jimmy Nelson whiff, Eric Sogard reached base via a walk. That brought Neil Walker to the plate, who deposited a hanging 1-0 changeup from starter Gerrit Cole into the right field bullpen to close the gap to 4-3.

Things would get quiet until the bottom of the sixth. With Cole still in the game, Travis Shaw strode to the plate to lead off the inning and crushed a solo home run to tie the game at 4 apiece.

Craig Counsell has developed a reputation for having quick hooks with his pitchers, but Jimmy Nelson took the mound for the top of the 7th despite having already thrown 94 pitches. Jordy Mercer grounded out weakly to Manny Pina to start the frame (on a ball he thought was foul), but Chris Stewart followed with a single. John Jaso grounded into what looked a taylormade double play ball for Jesus Aguilar, but the ball hit off his glove and trickled into right field. Aguilar was charged with an error and Nelson was replaced by Jared Hughes. A fielder’s choice made it two outs with runners on first and second, but Josh Harrison then lined a two-out RBI single to left field to make it 5-4. A close play at the plate was upheld by replay review.

In the bottom of the 7th, Keon Broxton greeted George Kontos rather rudely by depositing his fourth pitch of the inning over the fence in center field. It was Broxton’s second homer of the day and 19th on the season. Keon’s now hitting .226/.303/.460 on the year, which translates to a pretty solid 93 wRC+. Even if Brinson were healthy, Broxton remains Milwaukee’s best regular option in center field. He’s pretty close to reaching some milestone numbers, too:

Anthony Swarzak made his first appearance August 10th and quickly found himself in some hot water. Josh Bell hit a liner off of him to lead off the inning, which Domingo Santana initially broke in on before watching it sail over his head. The ball bounded off the wall and then Santana had some issues tracking it down and getting it back to the infield, leading to a Bell “triple.” He would come around to score on a one-out single by Adam Frazier, tilting things back in Pittsburgh’s favor at 6-5.

George Kontos came out for the Pirates in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Jesus Aguilar reached base on a single to bring up Manny Pina. Kontos missed with a 2-1 fastball and left the 96 MPH offering right down the middle, but Pina did not miss it. His 9th home run of the season gave Milwaukee a 7-6 advantage that they wouldn’t relinquish. Corey Knebel pitched a perfect ninth inning with a strikeout to lock down Milwaukee’s 63rd victory of the season and his 24th save.

Today’s victory briefly pushes the Milwaukee Nine back into sole possession of 2nd place in the NL Central, 1.0 games behind the Cubs and 0.5 games ahead of the Cardinals. Both of those teams play later today, though.

The Brewers (63-59) have an off day tomorrow before heading to Colorado (66-53) to begin a nine-game west coast road trip on Friday. Matt Garza (6-6, 4.38 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball in the opener against German Marquez (9-5, 4.13 ERA).

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs