Capuano’s long wait ends
Fielder and Weeks each hit home runs for the second consecutive game, Capuano won for the first time in more than three years and despite having only three hits, Milwaukee beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 on Monday night.
Weeks homered for the third time in two days to extend his club record for homers by a Milwaukee second baseman to 18, and Fielder took over sole possession of the National League home run lead with his 23rd for the Brewers, who have won six of their past eight.
Making his second start since the end of the 2007 season after missing 2008-09 due to injury, Capuano (1-1) broke a franchise record 13-game losing streak by allowing a run on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts in five innings.
“It’s going to be pretty tough to get me down tonight,” Capuano said. “The time since my last win definitely wasn’t lost on me.
“It was just a really nice lift from the team because they hit some hard hits balls. Our guys played great defense, and I left four innings for the ’pen to eat up. It feels great. I really appreciate it from my team.”
Capuano, who just last month returned to the majors after recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, hadn’t won since May 13, 2007. His only start since Sept. 28, 2007, came in his season debut June 3. He had made seven relief appearances since but was needed because starter Doug Davis was placed on the disabled list last week.
“He should have headlines tomorrow,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said.
Todd Coffey, Zach Braddock, Kameron Loe and John Axford combined for four shutout innings of relief.
Axford earned his 12th save in as many opportunities, allowing two men to reach before striking out Ryan Doumit and Ryan Church and getting Ronny Cedeno to ground out.
“We had the winning run at the plate; that’s all you can ask for against a closer,” Pirates manager John Russell said. “We just couldn’t come up with that big hit.”
Milwaukee won despite only three hits and four baserunners.
Pittsburgh had established season-highs for hits the two previous games—the 36 combined hits in consecutive wins over Houston were the most in a two-game stretch in 35 years.
But playing without their best player in Andrew McCutchen due to a neck injury, the Pirates reverted back to looking like the team that was last in the NL in runs and batting average at the All-Star break. They had six hits—two each by Cedeno and Neil Walker—and never more than one in an inning.
Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens was perfect through four innings—but Fielder took the first pitch of the fifth to the opposite field, just beyond the wall near the left-field corner.
Pinch-hitter Carlos Gomez was the second to reach base against Karstens when he laid down a bunt single with one out in the sixth. Weeks followed by hitting a 3-0 pitch over the wall in left-center.
“Of course, at 3-0 you’re looking fastball,” Weeks said. “I’m trying to get the bat head out in front and hopefully get the ball up in the air somewhere.”
“Those were really the only two mistakes (Karstens) made,” Russell said. “Unfortunately, he had to pay for it.”
Karstens (2-5) threw only seven balls (out of 47 total pitches) through his first five innings and threw 53 of 66 pitches for strikes overall. He only allowed three baserunners during his six innings—but all of them scored.
“I just felt I had a really good rhythm throwing strikes and then when I got ahead I was expanding the zone a little bit making them chase,” Karstens said. “Just doing what I’ve been doing while I’ve been here.”
Pittsburgh’s lone run came when Pedro Alvarez walked to lead off the fifth and scored on Cedeno’s two-out triple.
Notes: The game was delayed by rain for 50 minutes midway through the second inning. … The Pirates before the game expressed hope that the mild sprain of McCutchen’s AC joint injured while making a diving catch Sunday is not serious enough to warrant a stint on the disabled list. He is officially listed as day-to-day. … The Brewers have won five consecutive against the Pirates this season, including a three-game sweep July 9-11.