The first game of tonight’s double header seemed like just another chapter in the depressing story that features the Milwaukee Brewers dominating the Pittsburgh Pirates at every turn. Game two saw a role reversal. In game one, the Brewers pulled away with six runs late in the game. In game two, the Pirates entered the bottom of the seventh tied at 2-2. They left the inning leading 9-2, and getting a standing ovation from the home crowd.
Brad Lincoln gave the Pirates a great start, going six innings, and allowing two runs on three hits. The damage came in the first inning when Lincoln gave up a leadoff homer to Corey Hart, then surrendered one more run when Nyjer Morgan beat out a Neil Walker throw to the plate on a ground ball to second base. From there, Lincoln shut down the Brewers, needing just 76 pitches to get through six innings. He was on a limited pitch count, and he made the most of it, noting his quick outs and quick innings after the game.
The timing of the start was excellent for Lincoln, as it came on the same day that Kevin Correia was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and shortly after Paul Maholm was also placed on the disabled list. With both starters out, Lincoln will get more time in the rotation from this point forward.
“We’re definitely going to get him the ball and see where he can take it from the rotation, being one of the starters,” Clint Hurdle said after the game.
Lincoln has made two starts in the majors this year, and the difference between the rotation and the bullpen has been clear, with much better results out of the rotation.
“It’s just something that I’ve done my entire career, so obviously I’m going to be a little more comfortable with (starting), rather than coming out of the pen,” Lincoln said. “Not to say I wasn’t comfortable coming out of the pen. It was just a more relaxed feeling for me out there tonight.”
He was going up against Zack Greinke, who held the Pirates to two runs through six innings, matching pace with Lincoln. That was until the seventh inning, when the Pirates got Greinke for five runs, along with two more from reliever Frankie De La Cruz. Josh Harrison got things started, giving the Pirates the go-ahead run with an RBI double to left field. Harrison had a big day, going 3-for-6 in the double header with a double and a triple. Harrison initially tried to bunt, couldn’t get the bunt down, and ended up coming through with the hit.
“It felt good, especially against a team like that,” Harrison said about starting the rally.
Daniel McCutchen got the win, pitching a shutout inning before the rally in the seventh. Chris Leroux closed things out, pitching two shutout innings and striking out three, including the final batter of the game, to give the Pirates the long sought after win against Milwaukee. The win snapped a 13 game losing streak against Milwaukee, including an 0-8 record this season. The Pirates have never lost a double header to Milwaukee, with a 1-0-5 record after tonight’s pair of contests.
The big question going forward will be who will start on Wednesday. The Pirates were short in the bullpen tonight, and the strong starts by Jeff Karstens and Brad Lincoln helped tremendously. However, there is no strong candidate for a Wednesday starter, with Ross Ohlendorf, the only strong candidate in the upper levels, making tomorrow’s start.