PITTSBURGH -- The Milwaukee Brewers responded to a beat-down at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night by delivering one of their own on Saturday afternoon.
Matt Garza delivered a much-needed quality start, and the offense came alive for five runs over the final two innings en route to a 9-3 victory on a sunny afternoon at PNC Park.
A crowd of 38,525, largest ever to see the Brewers there, watched as Garza fought for six innings without his best stuff. He allowed six hits, three runs (earned) and five walks and departed with a 4-3 lead.
Rob Wooten held the Pirates scoreless in the seventh, and Milwaukee sent eight batters to the plate in the eighth, scoring four times against Pittsburgh relievers Justin Wilson and Jeanmar Gomez to put the game out of reach.
"I think just us answering back (was important)," said Garza, who evened his record at 4-4. "We really don't pay attention to how many runs we lose by; it's still a loss. We just come back and answer back and try to get that 'W' again."
Garza got an early lead with which to work courtesy of three Pirates errors in the first.
Jean Segura led off with a grounder to shortstop that Jordy Mercer bobbled, allowing him to reach. First baseman Ike Davis committed a pair of errors on a pickoff attempt by Edinson Volquez, and Segura scampered all the way third before Jonathan Lucroy drove him in with a sacrifice fly to left.
Milwaukee kept that 1-0 advantage until the third.
Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen singled with one out, and after Russell Martin drew a two-out walk to load the bases, Pedro Alvarez followed with a broken-bat, bloop single to right that put the Pirates in front, 2-1.
The Brewers battled back into the lead the next inning, thanks to a big hit by Lyle Overbay.
Lucroy started things off with a single, and with one out Aramis Ramirez was hit in the right hand by an Edinson Volquez pitch. Khris Davis smacked a ground-rule double to left to score Lucroy and bring up Scooter Gennett, whom Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle elected to intentionally walk to load the bases for Overbay.
He responded by serving a single to center on the first pitch he saw from Volquez to score Ramirez and Davis and put Milwaukee back in front, 4-2.
"Curveball," Overbay said. "He threw a couple fastballs my first at-bat and he had been throwing a lot of curveballs and changeups with runners in scoring position. I was thinking if he threw a fastball it was going to be down and away and I was going to hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
"I wanted to get something up in the zone, and I did."
Milwaukee threatened by putting two runners on in the sixth but couldn't cash in.
In the bottom of the frame Garza opened by walking Alvarez, who quickly moved to third when Ramirez threw away a bunt attempt by Jose Tabata. Mercer followed by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play, with the Brewers conceding the run.
Garza finished the inning with the Brewers still in front, 4-3, and Wooten came on.
"Garza, I thought he threw the ball well," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "He wasn't locked in as much as he was the last time, but I thought he threw the ball well. He battled."
Indeed, Garza struck out just one after registering eight in 6 1/3 innings in his previous start against Baltimore. The most important thing, obviously, was winning for the second time in as many outings -- the first time he's done so this season.
"Some days you don't have your best stuff and you just keep going," he said. "I've been dealing with a lot of bloop singles, especially here in Pittsburgh, so you just keep going and not make too big a deal about it."
In the eighth, Wilson walked Davis and Gennett with one out and then plunked pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds to load the bases. Rickie Weeks, pinch-hitting in the ninth spot, drove in Davis with a fielder's choice groundout to make it 5-3.
Weeks stole second and Segura reached on an infield single with Gennett scoring. Jeanmar Gomez replaced Wilson and was greeted with a two-RBI double off the right-field wall by Ryan Braun that made it 8-3.
Will Smith pitched a scoreless eighth, and the Brewers tacked on their final run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Irving Falu before Brandon Kintzler finished with a scoreless ninth.
"It just shows the kind of team we have," Overbay said. "As far as not panicking and understanding it was just one game, we got beat and we were able to turn the page and do the things we needed to do to be successful today and even the series."
Added Roenicke: We played well. We made some really good double plays and got some big hits when we needed to, so I thought it was a good game all around."
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