Pirates surge late, slip past Brewers
Paulino's RBI single, Phelps' triple in eighth the difference
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates lefty Tom Gorzelanny was on the verge of notching his 15th victory, but the Pirates' bullpen could not hold the lead as the Bucs were forced to rally late for a 7-4 win over the Brewers on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park.
"That's a heck of a game," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "The only tough part is that we were not able to finish for Gorzelanny. And unfortunately, it's not the first time that's happened."
Ronny Paulino scorched an RBI single up the middle, scoring pinch-runner Cesar Izturis with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Paulino came up with the hit after Brewers reliever Derrick Turnbow walked two batters with one out. Pinch-hitter Josh Phelps later sealed the victory with a two-run triple off Turnbow.
"The rally that we put together in the bottom half of the eighth, it gets set up via a couple of base on balls," Tracy said. "[We got] a great at-bat by [Jose] Bautista, a great at-bat by [Steve] Pearce and a huge at-bat by Paulino and then the big two-run triple by Josh Phelps."
Gorzelanny was trying to become the Bucs' first 15-game winner since Todd Ritchie turned the trick in 1999. Gorzelanny hurled 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on six hits, settling for a no-decision.
"I felt I could have done a lot better than I did," Gorzelanny said. "I walked too many guys and just got behind a lot of guys, and I had to kind of battle my way out of it and I really didn't want to have to do that. I just wanted to try to do whatever I could to keep us in it and give us a chance, and we ended up taking it."
Bucs lefty John Grabow picked up the win in relief, upping his record to 3-1.
"To Grabow's credit, [he was down] three balls and no strikes with two outs and the bases loaded in a 4-4 game -- you've pretty much eliminated all guesswork," Tracy said. "And he had to throw three fastballs and he had to hit spots, and he did it."
Brewers starter Dave Bush surrendered four runs on five hits in four innings of work.
Turnbow was tagged with the loss, falling to 4-5 on the season.
Pittsburgh jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when right fielder Pearce hit an RBI single to deep shortstop that scored Nate McLouth.
The Pirates upped their lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the third inning. After a McLouth triple, Freddy Sanchez stroked an RBI single before Adam LaRoche doubled, Bautista slapped an RBI single and Pearce grounded an RBI fielder's choice.
The Brewers made it 4-1 in the top of the fifth when Ryan Braun drew a walk and came around to score on a double-play groundout.
Gorzelanny gave up a solo home run to Damian Miller in the fifth inning, as the Brewers sliced the Bucs' lead to 4-2.
Franquelis Osoria relieved Gorzelanny and retired Rickie Weeks to end a Brewers threat.
Milwaukee scored two runs in the eighth against Pittsburgh's bullpen, as J.J. Hardy scored on a Prince Fielder groundout and Corey Hart slammed an RBI triple off Shawn Chacon, tying the game at 4-4. Pittsburgh caused a multitude of problems for National League Central Division contenders Chicago and Milwaukee during the just-completed homestand.
"It was a very good homestand," Tracy said. "You take four out of six games against two clubs, both of which [at the time] were in first place. We played both of them [well], we win four games and go out on the road now for 10 and just continue to try to do our thing."
"We don't want to be overlooked," Phelps said. "That's the thing with these teams in our division coming down the stretch -- they may be looking at our series as a weak spot in their schedule and a chance to make up ground. We don't want to be overlooked. We just want to go out and compete."
George von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.