Bucs rally in seventh to surpass Brewers
Three-run Pittsburgh comeback fueled by singles, free pass
PITTSBURGH -- Four weeks after the Brewers flaunted their offensive muscles in an historic three-game rout of the Pirates, Pittsburgh punched back.
This time it was the Pirates -- determined not to revisit that embarrassing April series -- who piled additional anguish on an already downward-spiraling Brewers club. Riding a three-run seventh, the Pirates snatched up a 6-4 win over the Brewers at PNC Park on Wednesday night in front of 9,526 fans.
The victory, which opened up a five-game homestand, was the Brewers' ninth loss in a row. It also erased whatever lingering memories there might have been from being outscored, 36-1, the last time Milwaukee strolled into town, April 20-22.
"I don't know if there is any payback or redemption for what happened last time," D.J. Carrasco said. "A win is still a win."
"It feels good," Garrett Jones said, when reminded of that 20-0 stinging.
Pittsburgh took the final two installments of a three-game series in Milwaukee from April 26-28, giving the Pirates three consecutive wins over the Brewers.
Of the Pirates' 18 wins this season, 13 have come by two runs or fewer. Compare that to a season ago, when this club finished 24-42 in such games, and its understandable why "resiliency" was the word most frequently tossed around postgame.
"How we've been in the past, we've always found ways to lose those games," said Steve Pearce, who finished 3-for-4. "We're finding ways to win them. That's great for the ballclub."
The night may not have been about redemption for what happened in April, but there was plenty of individual redemption to be had by the end.
Ryan Doumit overcame a costly mental error to drive in the deciding run. Pearce made up for some suspect fielding with a big night at the plate. And Andy LaRoche took a lesson learned and parlayed it into a critical ninth-inning out.
Reaping the benefits of a better downward plane on his pitches, Brian Burres got the Pirates through the first six innings, leaving with the game tied at 3. He had done his job, getting out of some precarious jams and possibly earning himself a continued stay in the rotation, too.
"When you throw a fastball for strikes in pretty good spots, you can pitch off it with the other stuff," Burres said.
But Milwaukee didn't waste any time seizing its first lead of the night soon after Burres' exit, capitalizing when Doumit allowed Alcides Escobar to advance two bases on a passed ball. Prince Fielder created the inning's second out by swinging through a high pitch, which got away from Doumit. When Doumit went to retrieve the ball at the backstop, he never turned back to eye Escobar. At least, not until it was too late.
Escobar reached third safely. Casey McGehee then promptly singled him home to put the Brewers up, 4-3.
"It was my bad," Doumit said. "There was no excuse for it. I didn't expect the guy to go to third. I know better. I messed up."
Doumit hardly had time to stew over it, though, because the Pittsburgh catcher was in the middle of the Pirates' game-changing seventh. After Jones singled home the tying run, Doumit's bloop single drove home the go-ahead score.
"Unfortunately we make a few mistakes, but they are learning how to overcome them," manager John Russell said. "We got down a couple times and the offense kept responding. Guys seem to continue to battle."
Pearce, who had already committed an error and muffed another defensive play, added an insurance run with his third hit of the night.
"It was just one of those nights where the ball didn't want to go in my glove," said Pearce, who doubled and scored in the Pirates' two-run second as well. "I felt very relieved when I got some hits to help pick up the team."
A Pirates club that entered 11-0 when ahead after seven innings then handed that lead over to a bullpen that once again closed the door. The only time it got all that interesting was in the ninth, when LaRoche successfully baited Ryan Braun into the second out of the inning.
Braun had swiped second as Fielder struck out, and LaRoche -- who was near the bag due to the heavy shift the Pirates were employing -- took Doumit's throw. LaRoche turned back toward closer Octavio Dotel, but held onto the ball, knowing what Braun's next move might be if he saw no one was covering third.
"I was hoping he might take off," said LaRoche, who had seen Braun go first-to-third to take advantage of a similar defense the last time these two teams played. "As soon as I saw third base open, I kind of just stood there"
Braun bit. LaRoche turned around. And the Pirates third baseman made a diving tag to get Braun before he could retreat to second.
"[LaRoche] did some Matrix stuff or something, I don't know," Braun said. "He was about to throw the ball back to the pitcher and did a reverse spin. It was a good play by him and a stupid play by me."
One more out sealed Dotel's ninth save of the season and the Pirates' fourth win in their last six games. A win on Thursday would give the Pirates their third series sweep of the season, which would match Pittsburgh's total from 2009.
"It seems the last couple years, they've been on the upper end of most of the games against us, and it's good to get one back against them and a big win, come from behind tonight," LaRoche said. "It's good to get them back."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.