WP - Chris Stratton (1-0)
LP - David Phelps (2-3, BS 1)
SV - Richard Rodriguez (1)
HR - MIL: Justin Smoak (4), PIT: Gregory Polanco (4)
The Milwaukee Brewers are, thankfully, done with PNC Park for the 2020 season.
Looking to salvage the series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates and finish a grueling 10-game road trip with a still-respectable 5-5 record, the Brewers were 4 outs away from reaching that goal before once again seeing a late-inning nightmare in Pittsburgh.
After again getting no-hit through the first third of the game, things turned around for the Brewers offense in the middle innings. Keston Hiura broke up the no-hitter with an opposite-field bloop single, and then Justin Smoak scorched an RBI double into the deep right-center gap of the PNC Park outfield to score Hiura and get the Brewers on the board.
In the next inning, Luis Urias led off with an opposite field double down the right field line, and Omar Narvaez snapped out of his long slump with what might be his best-hit ball all year — a 105.5 mph screamer off the top of the 21-foot tall Clemente Wall in right field that drove in Urias to tie the game.
The Brewers would make it three innings in a row with runs scored in the 6th, taking the lead on a two-run, opposite field home run by Justin Smoak off the left field foul pole after Hiura reached on an error.
SMOAK BOMB FOR THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/mlJ9QLpoKu— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) August 23, 2020
That appeared to set things up perfectly for the Brewers to get out of town with at least one win in the series, closing out the game with their “A” bullpen. Freddy Peralta allowed his inherited runner from Corbin Burnes to score, but otherwise was once again impressive in a relief outing, getting out of a 7th inning jam thanks to a Pirates sac bunt and two strikeouts.
That set up David Phelps for the 8th inning, who started the inning with a strikeout looking before allowing a single to Cole Tucker. Another strikeout had him one out from getting out of the inning, but with Josh Hader warming, Phelps gave up a 2-out, 2-run, go-ahead home run to the lefty-swinging Gregory Polanco to blow the lead. Josh Hader once again did not get to pitch.
With rain starting again in the 9th inning, the strike zone widened with the Brewers at bat, leading to a couple of strikeouts by Narvaez and Orlando Arcia before Avisail Garcia lined out to left field to end the game.
The loss means a sweep at the hands of the lowly Pirates, the Brewers’ 4th loss in a row, and a 4-6 road trip. It was also the Brewers’ first loss after leading after 6 innings, dropping them to 9-1.
Phelps’ mistake to Polanco also cost Corbin Burnes his first decision of the year. Burnes seemed erratic at times, but limited himself to just 2 walks over 5.1 innings, striking out 7 Pirates and allowing 3 runs (only 2 while he was on the mound). He left the game in line for his first win of the season.
The Brewers will now head home for their longest homestand of the season, starting with a series against the Cincinnati Reds — who they’re tied with for third in the NL Central at 11-15. Monday marks one week until the trade deadline, and the series against the Reds may help decide which course David Stearns takes. Things have been disappointing lately, but they’re still only 2.5 games behind the Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, which would mean a playoff spot.