Baseball / Sports

Brewers' winning streak hits eight after clutch plays in eighth against Pirates

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Brewers keep finding ways to win games.

Sometimes, remarkable ways.

Escaping a huge jam in the top of the eighth with a one-of-a-kind double play, the Brewers went ahead on Jonathan Lucroy's RBI single in the bottom of the inning Saturday night to pull out a 3-2 nail-biter over Pittsburgh and claim their eighth consecutive victory before a sellout crowd of 42,828 at Miller Park.

The Brewers have won games in various ways during their impressive winning streak but the victors agreed this one belonged in a special category.

"I think this is a very unique win," said Lucroy. "It came down to the wire. It was exciting."

With the score tied, 2-2, the top of the eighth ended in incredible fashion. The Pirates had runners on the corners with one out when Andrew McCutchen hit a towering foul fly that Lucroy gloved about 15 feet from the plate on the first-base side.

Pirates runner Travis Snider broke from first base and stopped in the base path when Lucroy threw down to shortstop Jean Segura, a set play designed to let the speedy Starling Marte attempt to head home from third base.

But Segura threw to reliever Jim Henderson, who straddled the plate and tagged out Marte for what became a very rare 2-6-1 double play.

"I've never seen that one before, never with the pitcher covering," said Lucroy. "That late in the game, they were kind of desperate for a run, like we were.

"That's heads-up on (Henderson's) part. It was awesome. I was jacked to see him do that. He caught it and put it right on the guy. It all happened so fast."

Henderson, who found trouble when Marte and Snider singled with one out, is normally reserved in his mannerisms but spiked the ball in foul territory in excitement after making a hockey-style play true to his Canadian heritage.

"I haven't seen it yet (on video) so the guys were telling me what happened," said Henderson. "I don't really know. My focus there was just to get my glove out in front of the plate. I didn't really know where I was positioned; it happened so quickly.

"I'm glad I covered home in the first place. That ball was only (about) 10 feet from the plate and some pitchers just hang out by the mound. I'm glad I went to the plate so there was an opportunity for that. It was exciting."

That momentum shifted to the offense when Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Lucroy ripped consecutive singles with one out in the bottom of the inning to take the lead off right-hander Mark Melancon, one of the top setup men in the National League. Melancon stranded runners on second and third, but the Brewers had their first lead since the Pirates tied the score with two runs in the second inning off Yovani Gallardo, who hadn't been scored on this season.

But the excitement wasn't over. Closer Francisco Rodriguez issued his first walk of the season to Pedro Alvarez to open the ninth. Russell Martin then hit a grounder to Ramirez, who started an around-the-horn double play. First baseman Mark Reynolds laid out on the ground to catch the wide relay from Scooter Gennett, and umpires reviewed the play to see if he came off the bag.

It took only 41 seconds to determine Reynolds, a converted third baseman, maintained contact with his foot, and Rodriguez was on his way to converting his fourth save in four tries.

"I felt like I had (my foot) on there," said Reynolds. "I just reacted and stayed on the bag.

"It gets your adrenaline pumping. The crowd is into it. Tight game. That play 'Hendo' made at home, blocking it like a hockey goalie. It was a fun game, exciting."

The Brewers let a great chance to go back on top slip away in the seventh inning after McCutchen dropped Khris Davis' fly ball on the run for an error. After Reynolds walked, Gennett bunted the runners to second and third.

When Brewers manager Ron Roenicke sent left-handed-hitting Lyle Overbay to pinch hit, the Pirates countered with left-hander Tony Watson. Roenicke responded with right-handed-hitting Rickie Weeks, who hit a liner to left that Marte charged in to glove.

Davis, who broke a few steps off third, went back to tag but had no momentum and didn't try to score, and the Pirates escaped that inning without allowing a run.

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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