Gorzelanny struggles, Brewers fall to Pirates 7-1
Tom Gorzelanny's versatility has helped hold Milwaukee's patchwork pitching staff together during a forgettable season.
Still, it might not be enough to keep him in the rotation when the calendar flips to September.
Gorzelanny labored through 5 1-3 innings in a 7-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night, doing little to make a case he should remain a starter when rosters expand on Sunday.
''We have a lot of guys who can start and we probably need to make a decision on some of them and he's one of those guys,'' manager Ron Roenicke said.
Gorzelanny began the season in the bullpen but moved into the rotation in July. The results have been mixed, at best, and he had trouble keeping Pittsburgh's anemic offense in check. The left-hander gave up four runs on nine hits, walking one and striking out five.
''I thought I did a decent job of making good pitches but they seemed to be the right pitches in the wrong situations,'' Gorzelanny said. ''It seem like I didn't throw the ball well at the right time and then they put some good at-bats up on me.''
Carlos Gomez had two of Milwaukee's seven hits, but for once the Brewers couldn't find a way to rattle Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton (6-3). Milwaukee came in 4-0 against Morton during his career but managed just one unearned run on the night the Pirates stopped a three-game losing streak.
Well-traveled outfielder Marlon Byrd celebrated his arrival in Pittsburgh with a three-run homer. Josh Harrison added three hits and Andrew McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez had two hits apiece as the Pirates moved within a half-game of St. Louis for first-place in the crowded NL Central race.
Byrd, acquired along with catcher John Buck from the New York Mets on Tuesday, hit his 22nd homer of the season into the bushes in center field in the seventh inning to cap a whirlwind 36 hours in which he went from playing out the string to being thrust into the middle of a pennant race.
''We were battling over there in New York but at the end we just couldn't put it together,'' Byrd said. ''For a chance to play in the playoffs with a great team in a great city, I'm just fortunate.''
The Pirates brought in Buck and Byrd on Tuesday, hoping the two veterans could give the team a boost as Pittsburgh closes in on the franchise's first winning season in 21 years.
Manager Clint Hurdle wasted little time throwing Byrd into the mix, batting him fourth barely a day removed from the trade that sent Byrd to his seventh major league team.
The 35-year-old didn't take long to make an impression. He lined into a double play in the first inning after smashing Gorzelanny's fastball right back to the pitcher. He then drew a standing ovation for striking out his next time up - following an entertaining 14-pitch battle with Gorzelanny that lasted more than five minutes.
''I could have done without that one,'' Gorzelanny said. ''It was tough. I threw quite a few good pitches that he seemed to foul off. It's just going on and on and I wasn't going to give in. Somebody was going to give in and it wasn't going to be me.''
Gorzelanny was long gone when Byrd stepped into the batter's box against Milwaukee reliever Burke Badenhop with runners on the corners in the seventh. Byrd took the first pitch he saw from Badenhop and knocked it into the `S' in Pirates in the bushes just behind the wall in center.
Byrd, still searching for his first trip to the playoffs, hopped out of the dugout for a brief curtain call while getting his second ovation in an hour. Byrd didn't even realize what was going on until Pittsburgh ace A.J. Burnett yelled at him to acknowledge the crowd.
''Coming in I was so excited, it was, `Hey, get back out there,'' Byrd said.
The homer was more celebratory than critical after Morton handcuffed the Brewers to end years of futility against Pittsburgh's biggest nemesis. Milwaukee has won more than 70 percent of its games against Pittsburgh since 2007 and came in 4-0 against Morton.
The right-hander, still finding his way back from Tommy John surgery, dominated after some early trouble. The Brewers put four runners on base in the first inning but couldn't score and Morton took care of matters from there as the Pirates clinched the season series against Milwaukee for the first time since 2006.
NOTES: Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez continues to deal with left forearm inflammation but will not require surgery. Rodriguez, who has been on the disabled list since May, was evaluated by Dr. James Andrews in Florida on Tuesday after experiencing discomfort during a throwing session. Rodriguez will resume throwing later this week ... Brewers prospect Johnny Hellweg was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year. Hellweg is 11-5 with a 3.16 ERA for Triple-A Nashville. The right-hander, who is 0-3 with a 10.97 in three starts with Milwaukee this season, will be recalled to the majors next month ... The series concludes on Thursday when Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole 6-6, 3.81 ERA) faces Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo (9-9, 4.61).