Cole's home dominance, Alvarez's homer carry Bucs past Crew
By Adam Berry and Tom Singer
PITTSBURGH -- Gerrit Cole permitted two runs in six innings, and Pedro Alvarez hit a go-ahead home run as the Pirates completed a series sweep of Milwaukee on Sunday with a 5-2 win that consigned the Brewers to the worst season start in franchise history.
The Brewers have lost 10 of their first 12 games. Matt Garza, who has one of Milwaukee's two wins, pitched in and out of trouble Sunday, but fell permanently behind when Alvarez snapped a 2-2 tie with a solo homer in the third. Chris Stewart added a two-run single in the sixth.
Cole remained undefeated in his last eight starts at PNC Park, running his record in those games to 6-0. Additionally, the Pirates improved their record to 19-8 in Cole's home starts all-time.
"I started to throw the fastball more, moving it inside and outside, up and down," said Cole, who retired 13 of the last 14 men he faced. "They didn't seem to be catching up to it much, so I kinda stuck with it."
"He's good. Pure stuff, he's probably as good as anybody in baseball," Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun said of Cole. "He didn't make a lot of mistakes. You try to take advantage of the few mistakes that he does make, but obviously he's a great young pitcher, one of the best young pitchers in the game today."
The Brewers will head home to Miller Park on Monday having lost five games in a row while being outscored 25-9.
"It's obvious we're not doing the things that we should be doing. We do a lot of things right," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "But as a group, we're just not putting it together."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Stranded: The Brewers didn't have many chances to score against Cole and the Pirates, but they put themselves in a good spot early on. Milwaukee loaded the bases in the first and put two runners on to start the second. However, the Brewers managed to score only one run in each inning and had only two baserunners the rest of the way.
"You know when you face a guy like that, you hope that you're able to take advantage of the few mistakes he makes," Braun said, "because you know there won't be many." More >
Bullpen ready for "fire" alarm: For the first time all season, the Pirates entered the ninth inning needing a save. In each of their previous five wins, the Bucs had taken a lead of four-plus runs into the ultimate inning. Not Sunday, when the advantage over the Brewers was 5-2. Mark Melancon answered the call, getting a double-play ball to end the game. More >
Game gets away from Garza: After struggling through the first two innings and giving up the homer to Alvarez in the third, Garza retired seven of the next eight Pirates he faced. But things came undone in the sixth when he walked Alvarez to lead off the inning, hit Jordy Mercerin the chest and served up a two-run single to Stewart that put the game out of reach for the scuffling Brewers' lineup. More >
"We're swinging the bats terribly. We're not pitching great. We're not playing good defense. So, hopefully all those things come together at the same time and we start playing a lot better." -- Braun, on the Brewers' 2-10 start
"There's blood on his pants about every time he pitches." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, discounting a slightly-bloody hand as the reason for the post-sixth inning departure of Cole, who tends to irritate his finger gripping his circle-changeup
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• The Brewers have hit only three home runs this season. They haven't hit a home run in their last six games, the club's longest homerless stretch since Sept. 14-20, 2002.
• Buccos lefty reliever Tony Watson added another perfect eighth inning to his remarkable, extended run at PNC Park. Since August 2013, Watson has allowed four earned runs in 53 home appearances of an inning each, for an ERA of 0.68.
HOT CORNER GEM Luis Jimenez made his first start of the season and delivered a highlight-reel play at third base to end the sixth inning. Josh Harrison ripped a ground ball down the left-field line, but Jimenez made a full-extension dive to snare it, robbing Harrison of an extra-base hit.
Jimenez bounced up, turned his body and fired a strong one-hop throw to first base, where Adam Lind scooped up the ball to force out the speedy Harrison.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: After wrapping up a six-game, seven-day road trip Sunday, the Brewers head home to Miller Park, where they will face the Reds in a four-game series that starts Monday at 6:20 p.m. CT. Right-hander Wily Peralta, 3-3 with a 2.88 ERA in eight career starts against the Reds, is set to make his third start of the season.
Pirates:A.J. Burnett takes the PNC Park hill Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET as the Bucs open a four-game series against the Cubs. The Pirates went 6-3-1 in four-game series last season, dropping only one of the last eight.