McCutchen homers, Pirates pound 17 hits, beat Brewers 9-3
PITTSBURGH (AP) One bad inning wasn't enough to undo an otherwise impressive outing by Juan Nicasio.
Nicasio overcame a three-run fourth in pitching six effective innings, and Matt Joyce and Gregory Polanco each had three of the Pittsburgh Pirates' 17 hits in their 9-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.
Five of the seven baserunners - and all of the runs - Nicasio (2-1) allowed came during the fourth inning. In the other five frames, he was as dominant as he was in March while earning a starting rotation spot during spring training.
Nicasio was perfect through three innings, and he retired the final five batters he faced.
''I kind of fell out of my zone and felt a little bit drained,'' Nicasio said, through a translator, about the fourth inning. ''When I went back out there for the fifth inning I was able to put my team out front.''
Andrew McCutchen homered for the second straight day, Sean Rodriguez had a two-run homer and Josh Harrison and John Jaso each had two hits for the Pirates, who took the series from the Brewers after a loss in the opener Friday had extended their losing streak to four.
Pittsburgh's big offensive inning came in the third, when seven consecutive batters reached - some by way of shoddy Brewers defense - and five scored. Zach Davies (0-1) was pulled before getting out of the inning and was charged with five earned runs, nine hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings.
''(The third inning) was just frustrating,'' Davies said, ''but that's baseball. Balls are going to find holes. Sometimes you're going to get guys that make diving stops and eliminate those kinds of hits. It can go either way.''
The Pirates' offensive outburst - they had season highs in runs, hits and home runs - continued against five Brewers relievers. Pittsburgh totaled 25 baserunners Sunday, tying a season high by leaving 14 on base.
''The club has continued to build some momentum as far as the battle-in-the-box mentality,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ''We saw over 170 pitches.''
The Pirates entered Sunday with an NL-low five home runs this season; McCutchen did not have any until hitting solo shots during the fifth inning of both Saturday and Sunday's games.
HAVING HIS NUMBER
Davies was pounded by the Pirates for the third time in seven career starts. He has a 13.94 ERA in 10 1/3 career innings against the Pirates. He is 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA in four starts against other teams.
Brewers: Manager Craig Counsell stressed that giving the day off to OF Ryan Braun had been planned well in advance and that Braun has held up well physically after undergoing back surgery last fall.
Pirates: 3B Jung Ho Kang will begin a rehabilitation stint with Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday as he continues his recovery from a significant left knee injury in September. RHP Jared Hughes (back strain) will report to Indianapolis for a rehab stint in time for Tuesday's game. . OF Starling Marte was not in Sunday's lineup after being hit by a pitch on the outside of his right hand, but he did enter the game on defense in the eighth inning.
Brewers: Milwaukee will use a designated hitter for the first time this season, playing games Monday and Tuesday in Minnesota before hosting the Twins the following two days. Counsell indicated the Brewers would keep an extra bullpen arm on the roster before adding an outfielder when they return to a National League park.
Pirates: After an idle day, Pittsburgh heads to the West Coast for three games at San Diego followed by a three-game series at Arizona and four games in Colorado. The Pirates are playing NL West teams for the first time this season after going 27-6 against the division in 2015, including 14-3 on the road.