There was a moment in Wednesday’s game between the Pirates and Brewers at PNC Park when it seemed like Milwaukee was poised to break through against Pittsburgh starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez.
Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy opened the fourth inning with a triple that Jose Tabata appeared to have trouble making a clean play on. Neither team had been hitting much to that point and the Brewers looked ready to tilt the momentum to their side with a man standing 90 feet from home plate and no outs in the inning.
Rodriguez locked in and went to his breaking ball, getting Carlos Gomez and Rickie Weeks to pop up in the infield before forcing Alex Gonzalez to ground out to end the inning without any damage being done.
The Pirates would go on the score two in the sixth inning and another in the eighth to secure a 3-1 win and improve to 23-17 through 40 games so far this season.
Rodriguez finished with five strikeouts and one walk while allowing six hits and one run (a Weeks home run in the seventh inning) to earn his fourth win of the season and lower his ERA to 3.25.
“He made pitches he absolutely had to make to get out of that inning,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Rodriguez’s work in the fourth. “We might have had an opportunity to defend the ball a little better but it would have taken an above average Major League play to make it, but we’ve got to be able to make above average major league plays up here. That being said, he picked it up and he laid it down for us. He battled from start to finish.”
Neil Walker’s single back up the middle with the bases loaded scored Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte in the sixth inning and went down as the first RBI’s for Walker since April 17. It was also the Pirates first hit with a runner in scoring position in their last 24 opportunities (all against the Brewers).
“That bases-loaded thing has worked for him pretty well,” Hurdle said. “Right spot, right guy.”
Make no mistake, Gallardo was Gallardo until the Pirates broke through in the sixth. Before Marte led off the inning with a double, the Milwaukee ace had allowed just one hit (a Jordy Mercer single in the third) with three strikeouts and two walks.
He drops to 3-3 with the loss after allowing the two runs on three hits with four walks and five strikeouts on Wednesday.
Hiram Burgous (1-1, 6.86 ERA) will start for the Brewers on Thursday with Francisco Liriano (1-0, 1.69) slated to make his home debut for the Pirates.