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Milwaukee Brewers 7 Pittsburgh Pirates 2
Players of the Game:
Manny Parra: 5.2 IP, 4 H, BB, 6 K
Jason Bay: 1/3; HR, 2 RBIs, BB
The Brewers finally managed to pull hitting and pitching together and despite a few baserunning blunders and another error in the field were able to take advantage of a struggling Pittsburgh team. Manny Parra stifled the Pirates over 5.2 innings and the Brewers bullpen held on, while the Paul Maholm did his best to keep the Brewers in check, giving up four over 6.1. But the Pirates bullpen couldn't keep the lid on the fire and gave up three runs in 2.2 to let the Brewers pull away before the Pirates could put some offense on the board.
In the beginning it looked like the Brewers were ready to play the same baseball they've been playing over the last two weeks. After getting Cameron and Braun on to start the game, Prince promptly grounded into a double play. In the second they loaded the bases with nobody out. After Manny Parra struck out looking, Jason Kendall promptly grounded into a tailor made double play, but Pirates second baseman, Freddy Sanchez miscounted the outs and failed to even turn to first base, allowing a run to score.
The Brewers would give back in their own way as Mike Cameron had two inexcusable baserunning mistakes, getting doubled up off of second in the third on a line drive to right and for some ungodly reason, he tried to steal third with two on and Prince Fielder up (he's a lefty by the way). But they would finally make up for their mistakes. Parra would keep them ahead by changing speeds and painting corners with his mid-90s fastball. Braun continued his hot streak with two hits and an RBI in the 5th. And finally Rickie Weeks and Mike Cameron carried the squad, combing for five hits, a walk, HBP and three runs, with the dagger being Mike Cameron's two run shot in the 7th to chase starter Paul Maholm and give the Crew a cushion.
The Pirates offense was anemic all night, amassing only six hits in the game, two for extra bases. Freddy Sanchez and Nate McClouth were relative non-factors as they were unable to set the table for sluggers Jason Bay and Xavier Nady. Bay would deny the Brewers a shutout by hitting a two run shot in the ninth off of 'former' closer Eric Gagne to make it look not so bad. Nevertheless, Brewers pitching dominated. Look for the Pirates to bounce a little tonight, but not too far with Sheets on the mound. They'll be in much better shape on Thursday with Dave Bush on the mound, who was just switched with Suppan so Soup can pitch against the Nationals.
Predictions and Notes:
Almost dead on. Parra didn't make it past the sixth, Rickie Weeks jumped on the Mendoza line and Ryan Braun continued his hot streak. While Maholm only gave up four runs over 6.1 innings, he gave up nine hits over that time and was helped by two double plays and a caught stealing. Nady defied me a bit, but I suppose I underestimated his splits against right handed pitching.
Prince Fielder was the only Brewer starter to take the collar yesterday, going 0 for 5. Even worse; he was responsible for seven outs, grounding into a double play and falling victim to the idiocy of Mike Cameron, who took off before looking at where the ball would land.
The Brewers announced that they're moving Carlos Villanueva from the starting rotation and letting Seth McClung have his shot. I'm a little disappointed by this because I felt that Villanueva deserved more shots over Dave Bush who has been just as bad, but that's the name of the game. McClung has pitched particularly well over the last month or so and deserves his shot at the rotation and Villanueva has had considerable success in the bullpen last year before moving into the rotation in September. Dave Bush better pitch well to make this move look wise, but I wouldn't bet on it.
What's on Tap?:
Game two at PNC park starts tonight at 6 PM CST as Ben Sheets takes on Ian Snell. As I said yesterday, I think the Brewers bats will quiet down in this game with a righty on the mound, but after watching their ability to go to right field last night, part of me wants to bail on that. I'm going to stick to my predictions though and say the Pirates take this one in a low scoring game. Sheets will leave the game up 2-1 or something like that, only to have the bullpen fail in the long run and give up a few runs. Prediction: 4-3 Pirates.