Brewers get to Cole early, top Pirates

Brewers get to Cole early, top Pirates

MILWAUKEE -- Adam Lind's two-run double highlighted a first-inning ambush of Pirates ace Gerrit Cole as the Brewers derailed the Cole Train and Pittsburgh's postseason express with a 7-4 victory at Miller Park on Tuesday night.

Lind's two-bagger keyed a four-run first, the Brewers added a run in the second and Jimmy Nelson converted the early lead into his fourth win of the season over the Bucs. Nelson allowed four hits and a run in seven innings, striking out six without issuing a walk and lowering his ERA against Pittsburgh to 1.72 in five starts.

The loss, only their fifth in the last 18 games, dropped the Pirates six games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central. St. Louis beat the Nationals, 8-5, on a three-run walk-off homer by former Pirate Brandon Moss.

"That's a good team -- a very good team," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, "and we jumped on their best starter. We played a nice game."

The Bucs could get to Nelson only on Neil Walker's RBI single in the fifth. Pedro Alvarez added a long solo homer in the eighth off Corey Knebel. With two outs in the ninth, Aramis Ramirez and Jung Ho Kang homered back to back off David Goforth, leading to a save situation which Francisco Rodriguez converted into No. 32.

K-Rod notches the save

Cole equaled a couple of career negatives in the outing, lasting four innings to match his shortest start and allowing five runs, also matching the most he has ever allowed. He had that parlay once before, allowing five runs in four innings on June 28, 2014, against the Mets.

"A lot of quick damage. I looked [at tape of the outing] and I don't have all the answers," Cole said. "The stuff was kinda flat, not very crisp, and poor execution as well. I just got beat up real quick."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Quick strike: Ten pitches into the game, the Brewers had four hits and three runs. Scooter Gennett, Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun all singled to start the game before Lind smacked Cole's 10th pitch for a two-run double and a 3-0 lead. Cole surrendered a fourth run in the inning before he escaped, marking only the third time all season he'd allowed more than three earned runs in a start.

"You don't want to get in a hole against him," Gennett said. "We stuck to our approach, which was get a good pitch to hit early in the count. Be aggressive."

Braun's RBI single

Liz merges back into bullpen: Radhames Liz's return to the Majors, and to the Bucs' bullpen, highlighted a flat night for Pittsburgh. A potential key relief weapon down the stretch, Liz checked back in with two hitless innings featuring two strikeouts. More >

Liz strikes out Peterson

Back on track: Braun's nice running catch to take away a hit from Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli in the third inning came amid a stretch in which Nelson retired 10 batters in a row. He pitched through the end of the seventh inning without allowing a walk -- notable, considering Nelson set a dubious career high by walking eight batters in 3 1/3 innings during his previous start in Cleveland. More >

Braun's running catch

Ramirez returns: Ramirez received a modest ovation when he homered with two outs in the ninth inning, recognition from Brewers fans for his services over the past four seasons before a July 23 trade sent him to Pittsburgh. That swing sparked a late rally; when Kang followed with another homer and Walker doubled, the Brewers were compelled to call upon Rodriguez for a one-pitch save.

"It meant a lot. It means they appreciate what I did here for three-plus years, even though we didn't reach our goal [of postseason play]," said Ramirez. "They cheered the home run like I was still playing here. They're good fans, it's a good city. I had a few choices when I was a free agent, and I came here and I don't regret it."

Ramirez's solo blast

QUOTABLE
"He's added to our average age." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, asked what the addition of 37-year-old Ramirez has meant to the Pirates

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
After stealing second base in the fifth inning Tuesday, Braun needs only one more stolen base to become the 31st player in baseball history with at least four seasons of 20 home runs and 20 steals. There are two players on the list with Brewers ties, though neither Hank Aaron (six such seasons) nor Mike Cameron (five) had any of their 20/20 campaigns in Milwaukee. Cameron came close in 2008, when he had 25 homers and 17 stolen bases.

Tuesday's loss dropped the Pirates' road record in NL Central cities to 7-19; they are 26-11 at all other stops.

WHAT'S NEXT
Pirates: Left-hander Jeff Locke (7-8, 4.46 ERA) gets the Bucs' bounce-back assignment in Wednesday night's 8:10 p.m. ET game against the Brewers at Miller Park, where he has been quite successful. Since allowing three homers in his 2011 debut in the park, Locke has gone 3-1 and given up only one other homer in 25 1/3 innings.

Brewers: Zach Davies, 22, will make his Major League debut when the series continues Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Davies, acquired in the July 31 trade with the Orioles for outfielder Gerardo Parra, joined the Brewers' system as its No. 11 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com's rankings, and is the second player acquired in a July trade (with outfielder Domingo Santana) to make it to Milwaukee.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.