Brault plays spoiler for Pittsburgh
By Joe DiGiovanni
The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE — After dominating the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field over three days, the Milwaukee Brewers were rendered almost lifeless by Pittsburgh rookie Steven Brault and the reeling Pirates.
Brault and four relievers combined on a three-hitter to lift the Pirates to a 7-0 victory over Milwaukee on Monday night.
Milwaukee didn’t get a runner past first base against the Pirates and fell 2¢ games behind Chicago in the NL Central after outscoring the Cubs 20-3 in a three-game sweep at Wrigley Field over the weekend.
“There was not much good that happened,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “It was a frustrating day. There was never any point where we got anything good started.”
Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Jordy Mercer homered for Pittsburgh, which staggered into the game with a five-game losing streak.
“We got off to a quick start,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said of McCutchen’s two-run home run in the first inning. “We followed that up with some hard contact. From the top to the bottom of the lineup, we had some consistent, quality swings.”
Brault (1-0), making his second start of the season, used his fastball to keep the Brewers off-balance, only allowing a fourth-inning walk to Ryan Braun and a fifth-inning leadoff single to Jesus Aguilar. He struck out six in six innings for his first win in the majors. Brault also helped at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a double and a bases loaded, two-RBI single in the sixth to give Pittsburgh a 6-0 lead.
The left-hander was named the Most Valuable Pitcher in the International League after posting a 10-5 record with a 1.94 ERA for Triple-A Indianapolis. But he came into the game with an 0-3 record and 5.19 ERA in 15 appearances over two seasons in the majors.
Brault said he worked well with catcher Elias Diaz, who also spent much of the year at Indianapolis.
“We had the same idea: We’re going to go after these guys with fastballs until they hit it,” he said. “Basically, that’s what we stuck with the whole game.”
Milwaukee rookie Brandon Woodruff (1-2), allowed six runs on seven hits and a walk in five innings.
Marte hit a two-run homer in the fifth to make it 4-0 against Woodruff.
“That’s baseball, it happens,” Woodruff said. “You can’t be perfect every pitch.”
The Brewers intentionally walked Mercer with two outs in the sixth to load the bases, but Brault hit a sharp two-run single to center to make it 6-0.
Mercer hit his 14th homer, a solo shot, in the eighth to close the scoring.
Milwaukee’s Manny Pina singled to open the eighth off Daniel Hudson but was promptly erased on a double play. Domingo Santana singled in the ninth.
“There’s not many games left, but we weren’t going to win every game from here on out,” said Milwaukee’s Travis Shaw, who went hitless in three at-bats.
It was McCutchen’s 24th home run and 199th in his career, but first since Aug. 8 and only his second in 38 games. Marte, who hit his sixth homer, came into the game in a 2 for 23 slump, but is hitting .370 (20 for 54) in his last 14 games at Miller Park.
He hits, too
In five minor-league seasons, Brault is batting .419 (13 for 31). In the majors, he is batting .294 (5 for 17) in his two-year career. He has not struck out in 18 major-league plate appearances.
Pirates: RHP Joaquin Benoit left the team to attend to a family matter in the Dominican Republic.
Brewers: The team hasn’t announced a starter for Wednesday’s series finale to replace Jimmy Nelson (right rotator cuff strain and partial anterior labrum tear). Counsell said all options were being considered, including calling up a starter from the minors.
Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (11-9), 8-0 with a 2.38 ERA in his last nine road starts, will pitch in the middle game of the three-game series.
Brewers: LHP Brent Suter (2-2) will make his 11th start for Milwaukee tonight. Counsell said Suter’s arm wasn’t stretched out for him to make a full start. He pitched three innings in his last start on Sept. 3.