On Friday night, after dropping the game late in extra innings the previous night, the Pittsburgh Pirates (84-56) looked to bounce back strong against National League Central rival Milwaukee Brewers (62-79). Looking to rebound, the Pirates sent out right handed pitcher Charlie Morton (9-7, 4.02 ERA) out against Brewers right hander Jimmy Nelson (11-12, 3.95 ERA). Morton last six innings in this outing, allowing two runs off three hits, while allowing two walks off two strikeouts.
The game started as a defensive struggle, but with Chris Stewart RBIs late, the Pirates won by the final score of 6-3.
The Brewers got after Morton early in the top of the first inning when Adam Lind hit a two run home run to right field, scoring Elian Herrera to give Milwaukee the early 2-0 advantage. With 20 starts on the season, Morton has allowed 10 home runs at this point in the season.
The Pirates offense ignited in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring three runs off three hits; Jordy Mercer with one RBI scoring Josh Harrison from third base, and Stewart with two RBIs, scoring both Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen to give Pittsburgh the one run advantage, at 3-2 at the end of the fourth inning.
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Stewart would hit another RBI in the bottom of the sixth inning, hitting an RBI single to left field, scoring Jung Ho Kang from second base to give the Pirates the 4-2 lead.
Kang and Walker sparked the Pittsburgh, again, late in the bottom of the seventh inning, when Kang hit a double to left field, scoring McCutchen from first base. In the next at bat, with Kang at third after a David Goforth wild pitch, Walker hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Kang, with the score 4-2.
But the Brewers were not going down with out a fight. In the top of the eighth inning, with Martin Moldanado on third base, Hernan Perez hit a single to right field scoring Moldanado, cutting into Pittsburgh’s 6-3 lead.
In the top of the ninth inning, Pirates’ closer Mark Melancon sent the Brewers down in order, recording his 45th save on the season.
What Stood Out
On the positive side for the Pirates, Stewart was the key player on the night hitting two RBI singles, setting up three of Pirates’ scores.
Melancon recorded his 45th, and Major League Baseball leading, save of the season. Melancon is only one save away from tying the single season clubhouse record of 46 saves, set by former Pirate Mike Williams in 2002.
On Saturday, the Pirates send out left handed starter Jeff Locke (7-10, 4.56 ERA) out against Brewers right handed starter Zack Davies. Last time out against the Reds, Locke went five innings in his last outing, giving up three runs off four hits, while striking out six and allowing only two free passes.