Andrew McCutcheon lifts Pittsburgh Pirates over Milwaukee Brewers

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By Todd Rosiak
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Friday, April 18, 2014

PITTSBURGH--The Milwaukee Brewers’ return to the road was a rough one Thursday night.

Reliever Rob Wooten surrendered three runs in the decisive seventh inning and rookie Wei-Chung Wang was pounded for six more in an ugly eighth as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Brewers their first defeat away from home in decisive fashion, 11-2, in front of a crowd of 17,584 at PNC Park.

Milwaukee used quality starting pitching, solid relief and timely offense in sweeping both the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies on their first road trip earlier this month.

Yovani Gallardo did enough to keep the Brewers in this one, limiting the Pirates to just three hits and two runs (earned) while walking four and striking out six in a six-inning, 114-pitch struggle.

But the bullpen, which came into the night leading the major leagues with a 1.33 ERA, wasn’t up to the task. Neither was the offense, which scored two runs in the first three innings against Edinson Volquez but sent the minimum 15 men to the plate from the fourth inning on.

The Brewers’ 11 victories against five defeats still lead the major leagues, but it was tough to take a lot of positive out of this one.

“It was a good ball game until the seventh inning,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.

Milwaukee took the lead, 1-0, in the first when Aramis Ramirez singled in Carlos Gomez and continued his torrid pace at the plate with runners in scoring position.

Pittsburgh battled back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame when Gallardo walked Starling Marte to lead off the game and two batters later surrendered a two-run home run to Andrew McCutchen.

“That first hitter of the game, I started off trying to do way too much and ended up walking the guy,” said Gallardo. “Then the ball was just up to McCutchen. Tried to go down and away and it was right down the middle thigh-high. To a hitter like that, obviously you can’t make that kind of mistake.”

The Brewers battled back to tie it in the third against Volquez when Ryan Braun doubled off the wall in right with one out and scored on a two-out single to center by Jonathan Lucroy.

Both starters settled in from there. Gallardo fought with his control all night but left after the sixth with the game still tied, 2-2.

Volquez, by comparison, exited following the seventh having allowed eight hits, those two runs and a walk on a very economical 77 pitches.

“He (Gallardo) keeps us in the game,” Roenicke said. “He gives up two in the first and then all zeros. He did a great job of hanging in there and making some good pitches when he had to.”

Added Gallardo: “It was tough. I think I was battling myself a little bit more than my past few starts. Honestly, just over-throwing.

“As the game went on I think I had a pretty good slider, then a breaking ball. I felt good; it was just one of those things where the command wasn’t there with the walks. My command wasn’t there. It all comes down to just trying to be too quick to the plate.”

Wooten took over in the seventh and immediately found trouble, giving up a single to light-hitting Jordy Mercer before hanging a 2-2 slider that pinch-hitter Josh Harrison sent out to left to make it 4-2.

Pittsburgh tacked on another run against Wooten as Marte reached on an infield single, stole second and went to third on a throwing error by Lucroy during a walk by Russell Martin and scored on an RBI groundout by McCutchen.

It was the second appearance for Wooten since being recalled Sunday from Class AAA Nashville, and one the right-hander won’t soon forget.

“That’s by far the most disappointed I’ve been in myself in my professional career. Any level,” he said. “Not only the hits—just mentally. I don’t have the words to describe it, really, right now. It was pretty embarrassing.”

With an array of right-handed hitters due up to start the seventh, Roenicke had three righty options—Tyler Thornburg, who had thrown an inning each of the last two games; Jim Henderson, who had struggled lately; and Wooten.

“I like Wooten,” said Roenicke. “Last year when he came up I put him right in tough situations. I’m fine with Wooten, no matter where he is. But there’s times where you have the three lefties where you’re not going to match up ideally.”

Things got out of hand in the eighth when Pittsburgh homered twice and scored six runs off rookie Wei-Chung Wang, the 21-year-old Taiwanese lefty whom the Brewers had plucked from the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft last December.

Wang made his major-league debut Monday, pitching a scoreless inning. This outing was a much different story as Gaby Sanchez greeted him with a solo homer that banged off the left-field foul pole, and Pedro Alvarez applied the finishing touches with a three-run shot.

Milwaukee’s bullpen entered the night leading MLB with a 1.33 ERA and a .179 opponent batting average. It emerged having been cuffed around like it has at no other point on the young season.

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