MILWAUKEE (AP) – Sean Rodriguez hit a home run and a two-run single, Andrew McCutchen went deep, rookie Chad Kuhl pitched six strong innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-1 on Wednesday night.
The Pirates won their sixth straight at Miller Park, and sixth of seven overall to improve to 76-75. Pittsburgh began the day 4 1/2 games behind San Francisco for the second NL wild card spot. The Pirates also have to hurdle the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins, too.
McCutchen helped the Pirates jump out to an early lead for the second consecutive game. He crushed a 2-2 pitch that just slipped by the left-field foul pole for his 24th home run. Tuesday, he hit a two-run double in the first.
Rodriguez’s two-run single finished the scoring in the first off starter Jimmy Nelson (8-15) and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Rodriguez hit his 18th home run of the season in the fourth. He has homered in in four of his last five games.
Kuhl (5-3) pitched two-hit ball through the fourth before the Brewers manufactured a run on Jonathan Villar’s two-out single in the fifth. Kuhl struck out six and walked one in his second career start against the Brewers. He took a no decision at Miller Park on Aug. 25, throwing six shutout innings before Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a two-run homer with one out in the seventh.
The Pirates’ bullpen silenced the Brewers bats the rest of the way. Juan Nicasio (7th) and Felipe Rivero (8th) set the stage for Tony Watson who converted his 15th save in 18 chances when he pitched the ninth.
NELSON’S PROBLEMS CONTINUE
Nelson was 5-3 in his first 11 starts, but the loss to Pittsburgh dropped his record to 3-12 in his last 20 starts. He put his team in a 3-0 hole in the first and then labored through the next four innings before being pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth.
Homeplate umpire Jerry Lane ejected Brewers manager Craig Counsell in the top of the fourth. Adam Frazier had just fouled off a pitch from Nelson that bounced out of the box and carried to first baseman Christ Carter who stepped on the bag for the apparent third out. Frazier looked puzzled, but when the Brewers started off the field, Lane signaled foul ball.
Counsell came out to argue with Lane. The manager finished and walked back toward the dugout, but then turned back for some final thoughts. Lane and Counsell became animated in their discussion before Lane ejected Counsell. First base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ushered Counsell to the dugout. Bench coach Pat Murphy took over for Counsell.
SEPTEMBER’S NL RBI LEADER
McCutchen’s 18 RBIs in September are the most in the NL.
McCUTCHEN’S MILLER PARK DERBY
His 17 home runs at Miller Park ties Matt Holiday for second most by an opposing batter and leaves McCutchen two behind Albert Pujols for first.
INJURY UPDATES FROM PIRATES TRAINER TODD TOMCZYK
C Chris Stewart underwent a chondroplasty on his left knee. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery that addressed some meniscus and cartilage changes. “We have approximately seven months before the start of the 2017 season,” Tomczyk said. “Chris started day one of his rehab process.”
RHP Neftali Feliz (right arm discomfort) has been cleared to play catch on flat ground only. He had a second opinion from Dr. James Bradley in Pittsburgh. “We are in the final process of gathering that information,” Tomczyk said.
RHP AJ Schugel (right shoulder discomfort) threw a bullpen last Friday, but has not responded as the club had hoped. “We are going to send him back to Pittsburgh for another consult with our team physicians and probably a subsequent second opinion sometime next week,” Tomczyk said.
Pirates: LF Starling Marte missed his 16th consecutive game with low back discomfort, but pinch hit in the eighth and took a called third strike. He went through another full workout and the club anticipates his return to the field in the near future.
Brewers: LF Ryan Braun missed his second consecutive game to be with his wife, Larisa, and their new son, Greyson Joseph. Manager Craig Counsell said that it was possible Braun may be back Thursday for the last of the three-game series with the Pirates. . RHP Taylor Jungmann (0-4, 8.34 ERA) makes his first start since April 28 against the Chicago Cubs when he faces Cincinnati on Saturday. He made the Opening Day roster, but then struggled mightily in his first five starts that he was demoted. Jungmann hasn’t allowed a run in 10 appearances since being recalled from Double-A Biloxi on Sept. 6.
Pirates: RHP Ryan Vogelsong (3-5, 4.87 ERA) makes his 10th start since being reinstated from the disabled list (facial fractures) on Aug. 4. He is unbeaten in his last four starts against the Brewers, including a 5-3 decision this Aug. 26 at Miller Park.
Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (8-11, 4.47) makes his fifth start against the Pirates this season. He is 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in the four previous outings.
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