MILWAUKEE -- Jonathan Lucroy's tie-breaking two-run shot in the fourth and solo homers by Aramis Ramirez and pinch-hitter Khris Davis powered the Brewers to an 8-5 win Saturday night over the Pirates. Jimmy Nelson recovered from a weird first inning -- when his wild pitches accounted for two of three runs -- to scatter seven hits in 6 1/3 innings as the Brewers won for the 12th time in 16 games.
"To me, it's as good a start as Jimmy has had," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Just to come back after that [first inning] and shut it down. We talk about, as a pitcher, giving your team a chance to win. He did that tonight."
Vance Worley, a game-time replacement for scheduled starter Francisco Liriano (stiff neck), had a 3-0 lead before making a pitch. The Brewers made quick work of that, starting with Nelson's two-run single in the second for his first career RBIs.
"You deal with a lot of adversity in this game, and that happened to be one I had to deal with," said Worley, called on to make his first start since May 14. "I got loose as fast as I could, and came in and did as much as I could."
Scooter Gennett, inserted into the lineup only after Liriano was scratched, and Ramirez had three hits each to pace a 13-hit attack, matching the Brewers' most prolific in 10 games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Helping his own cause: Nelson drove in Milwaukee's first two runs of the game in the second with a two-out single that stayed just inside the first-base bag down the right-field line. The two RBIs, scoring Ramirez and Gennett, were the first of Nelson's career. It was just his seventh hit in 57 career at-bats. More >
"I tried out a different batting stance," Nelson said. "Trying out anything when you feel like you're 0-for-50 or whatever. As a pitcher, when you're hitting you're just trying to make contact really."
One for the books: The Pirates' top of the first was baseball at its most bizarre, as they scored three earned runs without an RBI. One scored on a Nelson wild pitch, and an outfielder error that let in another run was eventually followed by a hit that would have scored it anyway.
"I saw something [Friday] I didn't think I'd ever seen before: a run score on three pitches without a homer," recalled Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "Well, tonight I saw two runs score within three pitches without a home run. Then [Nelson] was able to regain himself."
Luuuuu-croy: Counsell said before the game that playing first base would give Lucroy a rest from the mental fatigue of catching everyday and also allow the Brewers to keep his bat in the lineup. The move paid off as Lucroy crushed a two-run homer into the left-center-field bleachers off Worley in the fourth inning. It was his third of the season and gave Milwaukee a 5-3 lead.
Khrushed: After Liriano was scratched, outfielder Davis was pulled from the Brewers' starting lineup for the lefty-swinging Gerardo Parra. However, Davis was still able to leave his mark on the game by smashing his third career pinch-hit home run to center field in the seventh. The solo shot was his seventh of the season. More >
"It was another punch in the gut. It took more wind out of him. I do think it stung." -- Hurdle, on the 10-pitch walk worked by Parra with two outs in the fourth, two pitches before Lucroy launched his go-ahead homer
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Nelson's performance on Saturday was a microcosm of his 2015 season: struggling in the first inning before finding his groove and getting better as the game goes on. The right-hander has a 9.00 ERA in the first inning this season, but carries a 3.36 ERA after the opening frame.
The Pirates have dropped consecutive games for the first time since June 24-25. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: Lefty Jeff Locke tests his 7.28 road ERA, nearly triple his ERA at home (2.58), in the series finale against the Brewers on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. ET. He has, however, won his last three starts in Miller Park, most recently in April, going six innings in each and allowing a total of four runs.
Brewers: Rookie Taylor Jungmann will take the mound for Milwaukee in the series finale on Sunday at Miller Park. The right-hander made his first career start against the Pirates back on June 9, when he held Pittsburgh to one run on three hits over seven innings. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT.