PITTSBURGH -- After being dealt back-to-back walk-off losses, the Brewers walked off the field at PNC Park on Wednesday night with a 9-5 win over the Pirates following one of their best offensive performances of the season.
Milwaukee lost three of its first four games coming out of the All-Star break, the last two in especially frustrating fashion -- a passed ball on Sunday and a Little League homer on Tuesday. Neither team looked particularly crisp in the three-hour, 43-minute affair before a sold-out crowd of 36,717, but the Brewers put together a balanced offensive attack against Pirates starter Jeff Locke and four Pittsburgh relievers.
The Brewers reached safely 21 times, matching their second-highest total for a nine-inning game this season. Will Middlebrooks was their only starter without a hit, and the lineup combined to work nine walks -- including a run-scoring free pass by Chris Carter in the fourth inning. They stole five bases against catcher Francisco Cervelli. The Pirates staff's only clean, 1-2-3 inning was the ninth. Jonathan Villar, Hernan Perez and Ryan Braun each recorded two hits, and Jonathan Lucroy drove in three runs.
"We slowed the game down pretty good," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "But we did it by just kind of grinding out at-bats and getting runners on base. Nine walks is pretty impressive. We just put pressure on them every inning, for sure."
Locke allowed five runs on seven hits and five walks in three-plus innings, continuing his inconsistent season as the Pirates look for solutions to their pitching woes. Jared Hughes cleaned up a bases-loaded, no-out mess in the fourth, allowing only one inherited runner to score. After working a quick fifth, reliever A.J. Schugel was charged with three runs without recording an out in the sixth.
"We just didn't execute off the mound throughout the entire evening with any efficiency or any consistency," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We had the lead twice, and they pushed back. We didn't have shutdown innings. We didn't take care of things off the mound in the fashion that we needed to."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
He's not traded yet: With trade rumors swirling around him, Lucroy continued a solid road trip. He walked and scored in the third inning, delivered a big, two-run single in the sixth off Schugel that extended a 5-4 Brewers lead to 7-4, and added a sacrifice fly in the eighth to make it 9-5. Lucroy is on a six-game hitting streak and is 51-for-151 (.338) over his last 42 games, raising his batting average from .275 to .305. More >
"I thought that was probably the at-bat of the game against Schugel, when he got 0-2 and he worked his way back, fouled off some pitches and then got an off-speed pitch up in the zone and hit a [single]," Counsell said. "That was the at-bat of the game for me. That was a big play."
Flashing the leather: Locke immediately fell into trouble, putting two runners on to start the game. Ryan Braun then pulled a hard grounder, but third baseman Jung Ho Kang dived in front of it to start a crucial double play. Locke struck out Lucroy to end the inning, but he couldn't capitalize on the mulligan Kang afforded him, allowing five runs over the following three innings. More >
"I know we got out of that inning unscathed, but sometimes those need to be your mulligans, getting away with stuff like that and making sure it doesn't happen again," Locke said. "Sometimes you dig a hole too deep to climb out of."
Helping his cause: Brewers starter Chase Anderson wasn't particularly effective on the mound, throwing 86 pitches and allowing three runs on six hits in four innings, but he was pesky at the plate. His two-out single in the second inning plated the Brewers' first run, and a walk leading off the fourth produced another. Anderson eventually scored when Pittsburgh reliever Jared Hughes walked Carter with the bases loaded, giving Milwaukee a 5-3 lead. Anderson entered the day a career .084 hitter (9-for-107).
"Getting on base is huge, especially leading off the inning," Anderson said. "Hey, I'm just trying to do my part."
Of his mound work, Anderson said, "My thing this year is we get two runs, and then I give up three. It's like, 'Gosh, why do you do that?' But [Brewers hitters] kept doing their thing. They've picked me up a lot this year, and I'm very thankful for that."
Forcing the issue: Pirates rookie Adam Frazier entered the game in the sixth inning as part of a double switch, and the energetic infielder immediately made an impact. With two outs and nobody on, Frazier turned a throwing error by Brewers reliever Jacob Barnes into a two-base mistake. Gregory Polanco then lined a single to left, driving in Frazier and pulling the Pirates within three runs.
"The only thing we were really consistent at today was just not doing your job very well. … Just one of those ones you really wish you could have back." -- Locke
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Brewers hitters walked nine times, their second-highest total in a nine-inning game this season. Their season-high for a nine-inning game was 10 walks on April 15 in a game also started by Locke.
Hurdle was ejected three batters into the game for arguing with home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook. Apparently believing Braun should have been called out after a first-inning foul ball bounced off his shoulder, Hurdle initially argued from the Pirates dugout. Holbrook ejected Hurdle, who walked on to the field to further protest the call. It was Hurdle's fifth ejection of the season and the 50th of his career. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: The Brewers fell to 1-5 in Matt Garza's starts after losing their first game following the All-Star break, and Garza will be back on the mound for the finale of the road trip. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT.
Pirates: Left-hander Francisco Liriano, who's shown signs of returning to form this month, will try to put together another quality start in the Pirates' series finale against the Brewers on Thursday night at PNC Park. Liriano is just 5-9 with a 5.11 ERA on the year, but on Friday he worked six innings for the first time in more than a month.