Brewers beat Pirates to open series
MILWAUKEE—No confrontations. One hit batter. Two stars on the bench.
The Milwaukee Brewers withstood the early exits of outfielders Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun by pounding out 12 hits against Gerrit Cole and two Pittsburgh Pirates relievers in the teams’ first meeting since a benches-clearing brawl last month.
Jonathan Lucroy hit a bases-loaded, two-run single and Marco Estrada had eight strikeouts through six choppy innings in the Brewers’ 5-2 win Tuesday night.
“The other guys are getting on base,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “When everybody’s contributing it means we’re getting a lot of people on base through the lineup.”
Gomez scored the second run on Lucroy’s single in the third after getting hit by a changeup from Cole (3-3). No heated exchange of words on Tuesday, unlike April 20 when Cole and Gomez got into it on a play at third in Pittsburgh.
Gomez and both managers had signaled they were over the ill will left over from a brawl that led to suspensions. Gomez even smiled at first after getting hit by the off-speed pitch in the third, and he scored three batters later on Lucroy’s bases-loaded single.
Cole said he hasn’t spoken with Gomez since the brawl, but that they did exchange nods before Gomez’s first at-bat.
“I think pretty much everybody’s on the same page about this. I think we’ve all moved on,” Cole said.
Gomez left after the fifth with a tight back that began bothering him Monday. Braun was activated from the disabled list earlier Tuesday, and his departure after the sixth was planned as he gets acclimated in his return from a right oblique injury.
Earlier Tuesday, third baseman Aramis Ramirez was placed on the disabled list with a pulled left hamstring.
All those players down and the Brewers still scratched out five runs and the dozen hits throughout the lineup. Five came from reserves, including two apiece from the guys who replaced Braun and Gomez — Khris Davis and the newly called-up Elian Herrera.
“Everybody’s contributing ... It’s important to have that depth on the bench and have guys step up and get it going,” Lucroy said.
Neil Walker hit a solo homer that landed on the concourse beyond left-center in the first to extend his hitting streak to five for Pittsburgh.
It was one of six hits allowed by Estrada, who looked like he was having trouble much off the night locating his off-speed stuff. He needed 112 pitches to get through his outing, though Roenicke liked how Estrada missed low instead of instead down the middle when getting into trouble.
“Threw some great pitches but just couldn’t get it locked in where he could just go through an easy inning,” Roenicke said. “He did a great job of making the pitches when he needed to and finished up with a real nice ballgame.
Jean Segura added two hits, the second after a shot up the middle deflected off the mound and squirted in between first and second to allow Lucroy to score from second for a four-run lead in the seventh.
Francisco Rodriguez tossed a hitless ninth for his 16th save, bouncing back from his first blown save on Sunday.
Pitching has played a crucial role with Milwaukee racing out to a 25-14 mark and the NL Central lead — all while enduring injuries to key hitters. Braun finished 0 for 2 with a walk, striking out swinging in the fifth with runners on second and third.
Cole allowed seven hits, three walks and three runs in 5 2-3 innings. The right-hander with a fastball that reached 100 mph struck out six.
“He had to do some yard work tonight in a couple of those innings with men on base and he showed up well,” Hurdle said about his developing young hurler.