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Offense absent again as Brewers drop first game of doubleheader, 2-1

Scoring opportunities were few and far between for the Brewers, Pirates win off of two first-inning home runs

MLB: Game One-Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

WP - Ivan Nova (6-6)
LP - Chase Anderson (6-7)
SV - Felipe Vazquez (22)

HR - PIT: Starling Marte (12), Gregory Polanco (15); MIL: none

Looking to avoid their first four-game losing streak since April, the Brewers were playing from behind almost immediately on Saturday afternoon.

After they were unable to take advantage of a one-out double by Lorenzo Cain in the top half of the inning, Starling Marte -- who came into today’s game with a career 11-for-22 against Chase Anderson -- jumped all over him again for a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning. Gregory Polanco followed with a home run of his own to make it 2-0 Pirates. Anderson was able to get out of the inning without any further damage and was largely fine after that, although he did have to fight his command in order to get through his last 4.1 innings scoreless.

In the bottom of the third, Marte nearly took Anderson for extra bases again on a slicing gapper to right-center, but Cain was able to cover a ton of ground to run the ball down at the warning track. Statcast showed Cain covered 105 feet in his run to make the grab, which only had a catch probability of 22%.

After a walk to Polanco, a hit and run got him to third base, but it ended up being a bit of a break for the Brewers -- Polanco was being waved home but wasn’t looking at the third base coach and held up, possibly costing the Pirates a run. Anderson struck out Colin Moran to end the inning.

The entire game, the strike zone definitely seemed like one you’d see when umpires were being asked to work a double shift on a Saturday. Brad Miller was called out twice on strikes on pitches that were outside -- one clearly so, the second more borderline -- and Miller got into a shouting match with umpire Paul Nauert after the second punchout, but wasn’t thrown out of the game.

The Brewers were finally able to scratch a run across in the 5th inning. Tyler Saladino lead off with a single, his second of the game. Erik Kratz was nearly doubled up after that, but was able to beat out the possible double play ball to keep a man on first for Keon Broxton, who capped off a long at-bat with a 3-2 single to centerfield. Anderson’s sacrifice bunt attempt with one out failed, getting Kratz thrown out at third, but he was able to reach first safely to bring up Christian Yelich, who was able to come through with an RBI single to cut the Pirates lead to 2-1.

Cain followed with an infield single to load the bases and chase Ivan Nova. Richard Rodriguez came in and struck out Travis Shaw, who is now 0-for-11 with 6 strikeouts.

Elias Diaz led off the bottom of the 6th with a single off of Anderson. After getting Colin Moran to ground into a fielder’s choice, Anderson was lifted in favor of Taylor Williams, who got out of the inning without allowing a run to score.

Broxton drew a one-out walk in the top of the 7th, leading Craig Counsell to take a shot by pinch-hitting Jesus Aguilar. Despite a long at-bat by Aguilar, it didn’t work -- the inning ended on a strike-em-out-throw-em-out when Aguilar missed on a 3-2 pitch and Diaz threw out Broxton with a nearly 80 mph strike from his knees.

Corbin Burnes came on in relief in the bottom half of the 7th, gave up one-out walk to fellow prospect Austin Meadows and allowed a hit in the 8th, but otherwise struck out 4 in 2 scoreless innings.

Yelich led off the 8th with another single off of Kyle Crick. Cain probably should have hit into a double play after that, but Jordy Mercer’s footwork on the turn was off and Cain was able to make it to first safely. Shaw flew out and Hernan Perez struck out to end the 8th.

Felipe Vazquez, who had converted 11 straight save opportunities coming into those appearance and 4 saves this week, came on for the Pirates in the 9th and struck out Jonathan Villar and got Saladino to fly out to center before Kratz was able to come up with a 2-out single. Nate Orf grounded out weakly to short to end the game.

Game 2 of the doubleheader starts in 30 minutes.