MILWAUKEE — With a couple of regulars out of the lineup, the Milwaukee Brewers makeshift lineup Wednesday night seemed destined to fall victim to Pittsburgh’s red-hot lefty Francisco Liriano.
But as the funny game of baseball would have it, the Brewers pounced on Liriano for seven runs in three innings and rolled to a 9-3 victory, snapping a five-game losing streak and preventing their first winless homestand since 2010.
The win also prevented the Pirates from clinching their first winning season in 21 years, a minor victory in what has otherwise been a tough homestand.
“(Baseball) is hard to figure out,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “Every time I try to do it, it doesn’t seem to go that way. Liriano has been having a great year.
“I don’t know if it was location that was off or we were hitting some good pitches, but it was sure nice to see. I was thinking if Wily (Peralta) could hold them down and we could score two or three, maybe we could get him.”
After falling behind 1-0, Milwaukee jumped up 2-1 in the second inning on rookie left fielder Khris Davis’ ninth home run of the season. The Pirates tied the game on a Marlon Byrd RBI single in the top of the third, but the Brewers exploded for five runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Jonathan Lucroy’s RBI double put Milwaukee up 3-2, while Aramis Ramirez plated two more with a double of his own. After Ramirez scored on a groundout by Jeff Bianchi, Yuniesky Betancourt went to third on a wild pitch and scored on yet another wild pitch from Liriano with two outs and Peralta at the plate.
Allowing just five earned runs in his last four outings, Liriano’s night was done after three innings, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits. It was the second shortest outing of his season and the second most runs he’s giving up in an outing this year.
“We’ve had some tough losses but we’ve been in every game but one,” Roenicke said. “I like the way we’re playing, we’re just coming up a little short. We’re battling. When you are in every game or most every game, then it makes it fun for myself, it makes it fun for the players because they know we’re one hit or one good pitch away. I don’t care if we’re out of it or not, every win is a big win.”
Peralta fought early trouble and his own frustrations to turn in a quality start. Usually when his command is off and his frustration level high, the rookie right-hander comes unglued. But thanks to a few calming maneuvers from catcher Martin Maldonado, Peralta made big pitches when he had to and worked out of trouble.
“I was fighting with myself,” Peralta said. “It is a game of rhythm. I think the last three innings I started feeling better commanding the baseball.”
Though Milwaukee was in control of the game from the third inning on, things didn’t end without a little bit of drama. Andrew McCutchen led off the fifth inning with a long home run and spent a good amount of time standing in the box, appearing to admire his home run before starting a slow trot around the bases.
Peralta drilled Justin Morneau in the right hand with the next pitch, causing the benches and bullpens to clear. Things calmed down before escalating further and the game finished without any further incident.
“Morneau was thinking that we were coming at him, but any time you give up a home run and the next guy is hit, I don’t care what the guy is, when you get hit by a ball you get mad,” Roenicke said. “I don’t have any issue with Morneau getting a little mad there.
“I know we weren’t trying to hit him. I know Wily wasn’t trying to hit him. And I know you get mad (when you get hit). That wasn’t an issue with me.”
Peralta said he discussed working up and in on Morneau after the Pittsburgh first baseman doubled in his previous at-bat.
“I know it looks bad because right after a homer you don’t want to hit people,” Peralta said. “If you hit them, they think it is on purpose. But I know his reaction and I understand it. I know I wasn’t trying to hit him.”
Gorzelanny update: Brewers left-hander Tom Gorzelanny was examined by team physician William Raasch prior to Wednesday’s game, and it was determined the veteran needs further tests on his stiff left shoulder.
Gorzelanny will undergo the testing Thursday in Milwaukee and won’t make the trip to Chicago with the team if he’s unable to pitch.