It started off well enough when Cutch took a 2-2 pitch from Yavoni Gallardo in the opening frame and dropped it over the wall in left center to put the Bucs up 1-0.The Brewers stormed back against Gerrit Cole. He walked Norichika Aoki to start the Milwaukee half, and that was followed by a double to Jean Segura. Jonathan Lucroy's brought them both home. The next hitter, Aramis Ramirez, lined the ball back to Cole, and in perhaps a game-saving reaction, the young pitcher gloved the bullet and doubled up Lucroy to calm the waters.
The second went by with just a two-out infield single by Juan Francisco. The Bucs evened the count in the third with some two-out lightning. After Cutch and Justin Morneau singled, Marlon Byrd dropped a flare into right and the score was knotted. After that, there was a whole lot of pitching. Through seven, Morneau was the only player from either team to get past first, and it remained a 2-2 match.
The Pirates threatened to break out in the eighth against reliever Brandon Kintzler. With an out, Cutch walked and Morneau singled. The Byrd came through again, doubling in a run and putting Bucs at second and third. But Pittsburgh again couldn't put a ball in the air, as Russ Martin bounced out to third. Pedro was given four wide ones to load the sacks, and Gaby, taking a swing for Clint Barmes, flew out to center to leave the bases drunk with Pirates.
Vin Mazzzaro, who came on in the seventh, couldn't hang on to the lead; maybe with the expanded bullpen and Jason Grilli back, Clint might try to put in more one-inning work orders. Vin opened the frame by walking Caleb Gindl, and a right side grounder moved him to second. Segura rolled one up the middle, and it was tied again. But the Bucs had an answer. Leadoff walks are responsible for two of the trhee Brewer runs tonight.
Brewer closer Jim Henderson took the hill in the ninth, and Travis Snider grabbed some lumber for Pittsburgh. On the seventh pitch of his at-bat, he nailed a 2-2 slider and drove it into the night, over the fence in right center, and that gave Mark the Shark a one run lead to work with. There was a bit of two out drama when Scooter Gennett lined a double to right, but Melancon used his newest toy, the knuckle curve, and got Khris Davis swinging at a ball in the dirt to earn his 11th save and Vin's seventh win, his personal high (he went 6-8 as a starter for Oakland in 2010).
So the Pirates have finally ended their 20-year streak of shame with their 81st win (though 82 is the exclamation point; time to start a winning streak), and there were plenty of heroes. Snider, of course, and Cole, who put up zeroes after giving up two runs to the first three batters he saw and put away 12-of-13 batters before he left. Cutch scored three times, twice thanks to the Morneau-Byrd tag team behind him. In fact, the middle-of-the-order trio went 7-for-10 with three runs scored and three RBI; Snider was the only other Pirate with a hit. Neal Huntington is sure lookin' clever so far.
And maybe they got a little help from the Field of Dreams; there's no doubt that the Great One wouldn't allow his number #21 to be associated with losing years in Pittsburgh.
Francisco Liriano takes on Wily Peralto tomorrow night.
- Cutch delivered his 100th Pirate homer tonight and joined the Bucco 100 HR, 100 stolen base club.
- Travis Snider's game winner was his first homer since June 15th.
- Jason Grilli won't work in high leverage spots right away; the Bucs plan to break him in slowly before returning him to a back-end spot.
- Jeff Locke is going to work the middle game against St. Louis instead of tomorrow as the Pirates opted to keep Francisco Liriano on his regular schedule.
- The Reds dropped the Cards 1-0, so Pittsburgh is two up on St. Louis and 3-1/2 ahead of Cincinnati.