Pirates Climbing NL Central Ladder
By RICH ROVITO
MILWAUKEE – For one weekend, Miller Park wasn’t a house of horror for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates entered Sunday’s game with a 9-47 record at Miller Park since 2007. A 5-4 victory gave Pittsburgh its first series win against the Brewers in Milwaukee since June of last year. The Pirates took two of three in the weekend set.
“We are getting a little bit better,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We did some good things today, and we probably complicated the game for ourselves a couple different times as well. But we were able to play through it. We got on top and we stayed on top. It was a good way to finish the series and to win the series.”
Wandy Rodriguez won his fourth consecutive start, Pedro Alvarez had a two-run double and the Pirates built an early four-run lead before holding off the Brewers.
The Pirates have won 13 of 15 and are a season high 12 games over .500.
Rodriguez (6-2) gave up three earned runs on seven hits in five innings to earn a victory. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth for his major league-leading 20th save.
Hurdle said Rodriguez struggled with his command throughout most of the game but managed to preserve a lead.
“It wasn’t his best stuff,” Hurdle said. “The only easy inning he had was the first. We had a chance to get out of the fifth inning with him not giving up any runs, but that didn’t happen. It was a battle out there today for us. (Rodriguez) wasn’t sharp but he got the job done. We will take that and move on.”
Strong pitching and timely hitting have fueled the Pirates recent run of success.
“We’ve been doing a really good job together as a team,” Rodriguez said through a translator.
Pittsburgh got to Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo for a run in the second on Jordy Mercer’s two-out triple, which scored Michael McKenry, who walked.
Pittsburgh extended the lead in the third. Starling Marte led off with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Jones. A two-out double by Alvarez plated two more runs, giving Pittsburgh a 4-0 lead.
Gallardo (3-5) labored through just four innings. He gave up four earned runs and five hits while striking out seven and walking two.
“It’s definitely frustrating. I don’t know how to explain it, really,” Gallardo said. “It’s just one of those weird days. You go out there and have pretty good command of all of your pitches but obviously the results aren’t there.”
Gallardo threw 94 pitches over four innings.
“There were a lot of pitches,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “But I thought his stuff was good. Good live fastball. I thought he was down in the zone with it, but he threw a lot of pitches. They fouled a lot of balls off. It’s just surprising when I think he has good stuff and he struggles to get through four innings.”
The Brewers rallied in the fifth. Rickie Weeks had a lead-off single. After Rodriguez retired the next two batters, Norichika Aoki singled up the middle and Jean Segura reached on an infield hit, loading the bases. Ryan Braun followed with a three-run double, cutting the Pirates lead to 4-3.
The Pirates added a run in the sixth on Marte’s sacrifice fly.
Milwaukee again cut the lead to a single run in the eighth when Jeff Bianchi belted a one-out triple and scored on a Carlos Gomez’s sacrifice fly.
Mercer had three hits and a stolen base for the Pirates.