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Brewers win series, thump Pirates 13-6

WP: Corey Knebel (3-3); LP: Nick Kingham (5-7); Save: none; Home runs: Mil – Christian Yelich (32), Travis Shaw (31) Mike Moustakas (28); Pit – Adam Frazier (10)

A series win in Pittsburgh Box Score

The Milwaukee Brewers (89-67) jumped all over substitute starter Nick Kingham and topped their nemesis Pittsburgh Pirates (78-76) 13-6 to claim their first series win since 1789 at PNC Park.

That may be a bit of hyperbole, but the Bucs have owned the Crew this season. The win gives the Brewers just 7 wins in the 19 played.

The three contending NL Central teams all won big today, so the standings there remain the same. The Cubs lead Milwaukee by 2.5 games, and the Cards by 4.5. In the Wild Card chase, the Crew is up the 2 games on St. Louis, and the two teams will face off for a three game set at Busch Stadium starting tomorrow through Wednesday. Returns from Arizona are too early to tell; the Rockies trail Milwaukee by 3.5 games heading into today.

So back to the Milwaukee start at the plate: in the top of the first, Christian Yelich singled to center with one out, and Lorenzo Cain also singled to center, moving Yeli to second. Travis Shaw lined one off of Kingham for a single to load the bases, but Jesus Aguilar struck out looking on a questionable call for the second out. Kingham had two strikes on Mike Moustakas but hit him on his back knee to force in a run. Erik Kratz hit one deep to left center but got under it too much, and it was caught for the third out.

Kingham was worse in the second inning. Orlando Arcia hit one into the seats, on a nice catch by a very young fan. The second base ump, our friend Marty Foster (who tossed Travis Shaw in game one for being upset with a strikeout – swinging, no less), immediately signaled fan interference and put Arcia on second. The call was upheld on appeal. I’m pretty darn sure that ball was out without the catch, but the main concern was that the call took a run off the board. As it turns out, no biggie.

Brewers starter Wade Miley really wanted to bunt Arcia over, but Kingham was having none of it – he walked Wade on five pitches. Curtis Granderson flew to deep center, and Lando tagged and took third. That brought up Yelich, and Kingham’s first pitch to Yeli went 439 feet into the right center seats to put the Brewers up 4-0, and moved the relax-0-meter to mild among Brewer fans.

Were the Brewers done for the second inning? Goodness, no (with apologies to Pete the Cat)! LoCain hit a sinking bloop to right that Pablo Reyes misplayed for an error, and then Shaw ding-donged one over the stands and into the Allegheny River for two more. Relax-0-meter to comfortable.

Kingham stuck around to give up a line single to Aguilar and walk Moustakas before he was removed, and Tanner Anderson got the last two out. It was 6-0 Brewers after 2 innings.

Milwaukee added one in the top of the third on a one-out double by Granderson, a walk to Yeli, a fielder’s choice for Cain (leaving runners at first and third), a steal of second by Cain, and a wild pitch, making it 7-0 Crew.

Meanwhile, Wade Miley cruised. Through four innings he allowed only a lead-off base hit to Elias Diaz, and he was erased on a tailor-made double play, 6-4-3.

Then, it all fell apart in the bottom of the fifth. With a seven run lead and needing just three outs for his sixth win of the season, Wade couldn’t get an out. Well, he had some defensive “help”. Miley narrowly missed on a 3-2 pitch to walk Diaz leading off the inning, then Jordan Luplow went down to get a low change-up and loop it into center for a single, putting runners at first and second. Jose Osuna bounced a double play ball to Moustakas, but Moose let it get through him for an error, loading the bases. Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer both doubled and suddenly it was 7-4, and Wade’s day was suddenly done. Relax-0-Meter at mildly concerned.

Corey Knebel was called on to stem the tide with Mercer on second on second and nobody out. And he did – Knebel struck out three straight to send it to the fifth inning. What a run for Knebel since his return from the Disabled List — his season ERA is now down to 3.93.

The Pirates apparently felt badly for making a game of it, and gift-wrapped the Brewers a second five-spot of the day in the top of the sixth. Milwaukee accomplished the five runs with just one hit, a one out single to center by Cain against reliever Steven Brault. Brault then walked Shaw and Aguilar to load the bases. Moustakas had a chance to atone for his fifth inning error, but after getting ahead in the count at 3-1, Moose struck out.

With Kratz coming up, Clint Hurdle went with righty Miguel Feliz. Craig Counsell countered with Ryan Braun, but any of us could have done what the next three Brewers did. They all walked. The first walk, to Braun, forced in a run, as did the walk to Arcia. If you’re walking Lando, you are more than missing your spots. Eric Thames pinch hit for Knebel, and a wild pitch hit off of Diaz’ shin guard bounced towards the Milwaukee dugout down the first base line. Two runs came in, and Josh Bell retrieved the ball and threw home as Braun scored – and the throw sailed past Feliz for an error on the pitcher as Arcia came around for a bases clearing wild pitch. Thames continued his at bat and walked, his best pinch hitting appearance in quite some time.

So there you have it…five runs on one hit, four of the runs earned, and only two RBI for Brewer batters. 12-4 Brewers. Relax-0-meter at completely.

Moustakas homered leading off the top of the eighth for his 28th dinger of the season and Milwaukee’s final run.

The Milwaukee bullpen did a fine job after Knebel’s fifth. Corbin Burnes had a 1-2-3 sixth with a K; Jordan Lyles worked two innings and hit a batter (which may have been retaliation; Feliz hit Yelich in the elbow leading off the seventh). Lyles’ ERA is down to 3.77 as a Brewer. But Matt Albers continued his horrendous stretch of appearances and allowed a two out two run homer to Adam Frazier in the bottom of the ninth for the final two runs of the game. Albers’ season ERA now sits at 7.34.

The win sends the Brewers off to St. Louis on a high note, and the Brewers have announced that Chase Anderson will NOT start the game, and the Brewers will be going with a bullpen game. The opener has not been announced, other than it won’t be Josh Hader. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Brandon Woodruff out there, but that’s totally a guess. I’d prefer Corbin Burnes. The Cards will counter with Jack Flaherty (8-8, 3.08), who has dominated Milwaukee in his last two starts against them, going 13 innings and allowing just 1 run on 4 hits. He has walked 5 and struck out 20. This will be tough.

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