video thumbnail

MIL@PIT: Pirates break tie with seven runs in seventh

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates were willing to play small ball, content to push across the one run it would take to gain their first lead of the night.

But in a twisted way that would only be fitting for how lopsided this series has been in recent years, Josh Harrison's inability to lay down a sacrifice bunt catalyzed the Pirates' biggest offensive inning of the year.

The Pirates rode a seven-run seventh to a 9-2 win in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Brewers at PNC Park on Monday night. The victory, which snapped Milwaukee's 13-game winning streak against the Pirates, followed an 8-1 loss in Game 1.

"Everybody knows Milwaukee is very good," said Jose Tabata, who combined to go 4-for-9 in the two games. "They can do everything. But when Milwaukee comes here to play the Pirates, we play like we're serious."

The final score gave no indication of it, but this game was tight through six innings. Actually, Daniel McCutchen had to wiggle his way out of trouble in the top half of the seventh to keep the score even at 2.

With a pitch count of 78, Brewers starter Zack Greinke came back out to pitch the bottom half of the frame. He never finished it.

Garrett Jones delivered a leadoff single before Matt Diaz, who missed his own sacrifice bunt on the first pitch, was nicked by Greinke's second offering.

"I knew it hit him, but I was hoping the umpire didn't see," Greinke said. "I don't think the hitter even realized it hit him."

That proved especially beneficial to the Pirates, as it looked like catcher Jonathan Lucroy had a shot at throwing out Jones, who was taking off toward second.

Harrison was next and came up with the directive to bunt both runners over. He missed twice. The bunt sign came off, and Harrison put a swing on Greinke's third pitch, dropping it into shallow left field for an RBI double.

"I was definitely disappointed that I didn't get it down on the first two pitches," Harrison said. "After that, I knew I had to battle."

What happened next was pure fun for a Pirates team that has been so recently tortured by the Brewers.

With one out and the count full on pinch-hitter Andrew McCutchen, Greinke threw a slider in the dirt that skipped away from Lucroy. Diaz dashed home and scored safely. Tabata followed with an RBI double to chase Greinke from the game.

Xavier Paul and Ryan Doumit each hit RBI singles. Jones drove home the inning's sixth run with a sacrifice fly. A wild pitch scored the last. In all, the Pirates sent 12 hitters to the plate in the inning.

"It would have been nice," Greinke said, "if they would have just got their bunts down."

That certainly would have changed things.

Instead, five of those runs were charged to Greinke, who gave up seven in all. He had not allowed more than two in any of his previous eight starts. He gave up the first two -- an RBI single to Neil Walker in the first and a fourth-inning solo homer to Doumit -- after being handed a 2-0 lead.

Though the win went to Daniel McCutchen, the Pirates received a huge lift from Brad Lincoln, who moved out of the bullpen to make the spot start. Despite not having thrown more than 40 pitches in any appearance since being recalled on Aug. 6, Lincoln tossed 76 on Monday.

He finished six innings.

"I just wanted to give my team a chance to win and get deep into the game," said Lincoln, who was making his second doubleheader start for Pittsburgh this year. "I was on a limited pitch count, and I feel like I took advantage of that and got some quick outs and some quick innings."

It didn't start out as well as it ended for Lincoln, as each of the first two hitters he faced scored. Corey Hart led off with a homer and Nyjer Morgan followed with a single. Morgan swiped second, moved to third on a flyout and scored on a ground ball to give Milwaukee the early 2-0 lead.

Lincoln allowed only one more hit during the rest of his start and needed only 19 pitches to get through his last two innings. He kept Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder hitless.

"He throws well inside, that's what he does," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "And we didn't adjust to it too well."

Lincoln also got a big assist from his defense in the fourth. A walk and a fielding error by Ronny Cedeno put runners on the corners with no outs and brought up Yuniesky Betancourt, who already had two hits in Game 1.

Betancourt grounded to Harrison at third base, who began a double play that included tagging Fielder out in a rundown between third and home.

Manager Clint Hurdle announced after the game that Lincoln will get to remain in the rotation, filling the spot that opened Monday when Kevin Correia landed on the disabled list.

"We'll see how it continues to play out, but he pitches with an edge," Hurdle said. "He wants to be a guy you can depend on to give the ball to every day. The two times he's started up here this year, he's been very, very effective."

Lincoln went six innings and allowed two runs in both of those starts.

"We've waited on it long enough," Lincoln said, when asked if this could be his time to make a statement. "It needs to start sometime, and tonight was a good start for me to get on a roll."

MLB.com Comments