Baseball / Sports

Pirates mash Brewers, 8-3

MILWAUKEE -- Despite an eerie fog rolling in from Lake Michigan, Miller Park was no house of horrors for the Pirates on Friday night.

The Pirates chased Yovani Gallardo after five innings and plated runs in the second, third, fourth, fifth and eighth innings on the way to a decisive 8-3 win.

They made no errors, no baserunning gaffes and seized a game in the National League Central division race to open a very key stretch.

Josh Harrison had a career-high five RBI, Neil Walker ripped an RBI triple, and Andrew McCutchen throttled a Gallardo fastball 438 feet over the center field wall in the fifth for his 18th home run of the season.

The win gave the Pirates a 66-62 record. The Brewers dropped to 71-57.

Heading into the weekend, the Pirates had gone just 13-53 against the Brewers at Miller Park dating to 2007. The Brewers, who committed three errors, rallied to score a run on three singles off John Axford in the eighth but stranded two runners.

Justin Wilson walked a pair in the ninth, but got out of inning with a fly ball out and grounder to shortstop Jordy Mercer.

Pirates starter Jeff Locke battled through six innings, giving up just two earned runs on two hits -- one a home run -- and a season-high six walks.

Locke walked Jonathan Lucroy, his second batter of the game, and paid dearly when Ryan Braun drove a 3-2 change-up over the left field wall to make it 2-0.

But Gallardo struggled with his command in the second as the Pirates began to chip away.

Russell Martin reached on a throwing error by Aramis Ramirez, and Gallardo walked back-to-back batters to load the bases with no outs. Jordy Mercer drove in a run with a sacrifice fly before Harrison cleared the bases with a double and the Pirates took a 3-2 lead on one hit, two walks and an error.

McCutchen hit an infield single with one out in the third -- his first hit since returning from the disabled list -- then scored on the triple by Walker as the Pirates built a 4-2 lead.

The Pirates tacked on a fifth run in the fourth with a Harrison RBI single, then McCutchen drove that fastball 438 feet into center field to give the club a 6-2 lead and indicate he's recovering just fine.

Harrison homered for the 11th time this season in the eighth to make it 8-2.

Locke put the Brewers down in order in the second and third, but put two on in the fourth with a walk followed by a double by Rickie Weeks before getting Mark Reynolds to fly out to left to end the inning.

He dealt with runners on base in all but two innings, managing to weave his way out of several jams.

He gave up back-to-back walks in the sixth as Jared Hughes began to warm in the bullpen, but got out of the inning with a force out at third. The play was reviewed, but stood, inducing angry cries from the stands.

Prior to the game, manager Clint Hurdle pointed out that Locke has been successful against lineups loaded with right-handers before and suggested his night would come down to all-important location.

"Location," Hurdle said. "To be able to show the fastball to both sides of the plate, use the change-up, sprinkle in the curveball. We've seen him do it to other predominantly right-handed hitting lineups. In the two years that he's been here he's been one guy that has shown the ability to neutralize a heavy-laden right-handed lineup with some very good hitters on it. It'll come down to location."

Gallardo carried a 12-4 career record with a 2.57 ERA against the Pirates into Friday's start, including a 1-0 record with a 2.49 ERA in four starts this season.

His repertoire, Hurdle said, is what makes generally makes him so difficult.

"Downhill angle, the location. He'll throw any pitch at any time," Hurdle said before the game. "The breaking ball plays. He's got a couple, one he'll throw early for a strike, one he'll bounce late for a swing and miss. The change-up and the cutter. He's got a selection of pitches that all have some late life to him ... Just the overall the skill set of the usable pitches and the conviction to throw any of them at any time."

Gallardo finished five innings, giving up six runs (three earned) on eight hits and three walks. He struck out four and gave up the one home run.

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