Burnes cruises, Brewers top Bucs for 9th straight win
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Corbin Burnes challenged the Pittsburgh Pirates early, knowing that Milwaukee’s overworked bullpen needed him to work efficiently.
The Brewers ace went beyond the seventh inning for the first time in the majors, and the Brewers matched their longest winning streak in seven years by beating Pittsburgh 7-2 Thursday night.
The NL Central leaders have won nine in a row for the first time since April 4-13, 2014, outscoring opponents 66-23 during the streak.
“Obviously, their game plan was to come out swinging early and often,” Burnes said. “We kind of knew that just based off the last time I faced them. The focus was just to make sure that we were good 0-0, whether we’re getting ahead or we’re getting some weak contact. Worked pretty well tonight.”
Burnes (4-4) allowed one run on four hits with five strikeouts in a career-high 7 1/3 innings. He lasted seven innings twice before in the majors, once this season against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 6.
A slip might have cost Burnes at least another batter, as his knee jammed on the mound before getting the first out of the eighth. Burnes said he doesn’t expect it to produce any lingering issues.
“We’ll see how it feels tomorrow,” he said. “But this is something that I’ve felt before and I’ve dealt with before. Not too concerned about it.”
Pirates starter Wil Crowe (1-5) went 4 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on four hits with three strikeouts.
Clay Holmes didn’t get an out on 20 pitches (13 balls) in the sixth for the Pirates, who have lost four straight. He allowed an RBI single to Keston Hiura that extended Milwaukee’s lead to 3-1 following a balk and walked the bases loaded.
Daniel Robertson made it 4-1 on a sacrifice fly with one out after Holmes was pulled for Chris Stratton.
“We’ve faced good pitching, but there is frustration,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “You’re working hard and we’re not seeing it translate right now. We’ve got to keep working hard, keep trying to get better to get out of this lull.”
Burnes’ one noticeable mistake came in the fifth, when Ben Gamel drove his cutter over the wall in right-center field to cut Milwaukee’s lead to 2-1. The right-hander used just 42 pitches to get through the first four innings.
Milwaukee used five relievers during a 15-7 comeback win over the Cubs on Wednesday night.
“On a night when we really needed it, he gave us exactly what we needed,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Burnes. “And in really good fashion. All-in-all, the night went how we needed it to go. We got the rest of the guys a night off in the bullpen. The guys that needed it, a night off. Gets us kind of back to square-one.”
Gamel nearly got Pittsburgh on the board earlier, sending a ball deep to center. Jackie Bradley Jr. slowed near the warning track and faked like he had no play on the ball before making the routine catch. His faint appeared to fool baserunner Jacob Stallings, who was doubled up at first base.
“I’m always doing stuff like that,” Bradley said. “Whether it’s during a practice or anything like that. That moment just happened to be one of those moments.”
Pirates closer Richard Rodríguez gave up three runs in the ninth, one on a double from Omar Narváez and two more on a single from Tyrone Taylor with the deficit expanding to 7-1.
Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier will start for the National League in the 2021 All-Star Game at Coors Field, MLB announced Thursday. He will join Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski (1967) as the only Pittsburgh second basemen to start an All-Star Game. Frazier entered Thursday second in the NL in batting (.327) and tied for second in doubles (24).
“I’ll enjoy it when that moment comes,” Frazier said. “It’s a dream come true to share the field with future Hall of Famers, and some really good players. Just try to soak it all in when that times comes.”
Brewers: RHP Alec Bettinger was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. ... LHP Aaron Ashby was optioned to Nashville after allowing seven runs and getting pulled two outs into the first inning Wednesday.
Pirates: OF Jared Oliva was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Brewers: 2B Kolten Wong left with left calf tightness after the top of the third inning.
Pirates: 1B Colin Moran was placed on the 10-day injured list with a pisiform bone fracture in his left hand. ... INF Erik Gonzalez exited with a right-side discomfort after hustling for a single in the seventh.
RHP Adrian Houser (4-5, 4.16 ERA) will take the mound for the Brewers, facing Pirates RHP JT Brubaker (4-7, 3.82) on Friday. Houser has allowed a combined nine runs his past two starts; Brubaker hasn’t surrendered more than three runs in five straight starts.
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