Ike doubled with two down in the second and was left stranded when Jordy Mercer popped out. Liriano tossed a clean frame. With two gone in the third, Travis Snider rolled one up the middle, but Walker's opposite field fly finished the inning. Francisco's slider and change are excellent so far; he's retired the Brewers in order and has five whiffs after three.
Cutch opened the fourth with a walk. Pedro singled him to third, and a JT force out made it 1-0. Ricky Weeks opened the Brew Crew half with a knock to right. Frankie whiffed Braun, but then walked Jonathan Lucroy. It ended well; Mark Reynolds rolled a change up to Pedro, who stepped on third and threw over for the 5-3 DP.
With an out in the fifth, Frankie managed to go opposite way and bounce a single into left. He got his exercise as he was running when The Kid fouled off three 3-2 pitches with two outs before popping out. Davis started the Milwaukee half with a double on a two-strike slider that stayed over the plate. Ike Davis booted a Jean Segura grounder to put Brewers on the corners; Liriano again didn't cover first or they may have been able to get the out. Hopefully it's immaterial, as Jeff Bianchi lifted a sac fly to tie it. Peralta K'ed trying to bunt, but Segura stole second on the third strike. The brain trust went out to check on Liriano after that at-bat, but a few seconds later retreated back to the bench, and Francisco got the final out.
Pedro singled into center with an out in the sixth and was quickly erased on a JT around-the-horn DP. With an out, Braun punched a slider into right but advanced no further. Wily tucked the Pirates away easily in the seventh. Bryan Morris came on for the Bucs, although Liriano was only at 87 pitches. Morris walked Davis on four pitches to open the Brewer half and he was bunted to second. Another grounder moved him to third, followed by an intention walk to lefty pinch hitter Scooter Gennett. It worked; a grounder ended the inning.
Starling Marte's back must be improving; he hit for Morris in the eighth against Will Smith. He went down on three balls pretty much right down the middle. Gaby hit for Snider and he K'ed too. Walker got aboard with a two out knock, and Cutch followed with a single to put Bucs on the corners. It was to no avail; the lefty made quick work of Pedro, whiffing him on three pitches. Marte went to left, JT to right and Tony Watson climbed the bump. Tony lost Weeks. He cleaned that up quickly, getting Braun on a 5-4-3 DP. Lucroy beat out an infield single to the right side of second and stole second, but a Reynolds fly to right kept the score knotted.
Francisco Rodriguez took the ball in the ninth. With one gone, Ike singled to right and Jordy banged one into center, with Clint Barmes, Davis' pinch runner, holding at second. Chris Stewart kept the parade rolling with another knock to center on an 0-2 pitch; Barmes scored, Mercer went to third and Stewart to second on the throw home. Marte fouled off a bunt (probably a safety squeeze) and then drove a high two-strike hanger into center for a double, making it 4-1 Bucs.
Barmes went to first and Mark the Shark took the hill. For once, Melancon came on with a cushion and the 6-7-8 hitters. With two outs and two strikes, Bianchi banged a ball into center, moving to second on defensive indifference. Pinch hitter Logan Schafer become the third ground out of the inning, and Melancon earned the save for Tony Watson's win.
Took awhile for the attack to get going, but Peralta changes levels and avoids the middle of the plate, getting a lot of weak contact. And it was great to see Frankie back on top of his game, even if he found a W elusive again. Tonight was his best swing-and-miss outing of the year. Nice too to see Marte get a couple of at-bats and some time in the field, though we'd be surprised if he started tomorrow's day-after-night game.
Wandy Rodriguez returns to take on Yovani Gallardo tomorrow in the rubber match.
- Carlos Gomez has dropped the appeal of his suspension. He began serving his three-game suspension tonight - after leaving yesterday's game with a sore back. NH isn't the only GM with a trick or two up his sleeve.
- Jason Grilli threw a pair of 12-pitch simulated game innings today.