Braun’s RBI double sends Brewers past Pirates 5-3
MILWAUKEE — Eric Sogard and Domingo Santana got Ryan Braun a chance, and he delivered.
Braun hit a tiebreaking two-run double with two out in the eighth inning, helping the Milwaukee Brewers top the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 on Saturday night.
Braun, who entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh, drove a pitch from George Kontos (2-3) to the center-field wall to score Santana and Sogard. Braun got a chance to bat after Kontos walked Sogard, batting .105, on four pitches.
“I wouldn’t even had an opportunity if not for (Sogard) and Domingo finding a way to get on base,” Braun said.
Sogard grounded into a double play with two runners on in the second. He was walked intentionally with two outs in the fourth with first base open ahead of the pitcher, and he walked and scored in the seventh and eighth.
“He’s swung the bat so much better than the numbers would indicate,” Braun said. “I’ve seen him line out six or seven times probably in his last 15 or 20 plate appearances and have nothing to show for it, so it was really nice to see him at least get a few walks tonight.”
The Brewers walked four times in the final two innings, and three of the runners scored.
“We haven’t had that type of situation where the walks have been an issue out of the bullpen,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “For whatever reason, tonight they were.”
Josh Hader (1-0) pitched the final two innings to pick up the win. He surrendered Starling Marte’s tying two-run homer in the top of the eighth, and then retired the Pirates in order in the ninth.
“He’s going to give up runs and to respond like that is exactly what you want,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.
Braun was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game to rest a sore right calf. He struck out in the seventh, but came through in the clutch again with the game on the line. This season, the 2011 NL MVP is 7 for 10 with three homers and 13 RBIs with two outs and runners in scoring position.
Braun said the calf injury popped up during a homestand in mid-April and was “really tight” Wednesday in Cincinnati.
“It’s never fun to deal with any of this stuff,” Braun said. “We’re obviously trying to not make it worse.”
The Brewers opened a 3-1 lead by scoring twice against Kyle Crick in the seventh. The right-hander struggled with his control, walking three and throwing two wild pitches. Christian Yelich hit a tiebreaking RBI single, and Lorenzo Cain scored on a passed ball charged to catcher Francisco Cervelli.
“My fastball was cutting and it was kind of hard to locate,” Crick said.
Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon pitched five innings, allowing one run and six hits.
Milwaukee starter Jhoulys Chacin worked six innings. He was charged with one run and three hits.
HADER GETS HIT
It was a rare off night for Hader, who had allowed just two earned runs in 18 innings. He struck out in 2 2/3 innings in his previous appearance Monday at Cincinnati.
He walked Gregory Polanco before yielding Marte’s fifth homer.
The Brewers traded right-hander Oliver Drake to the Cleveland Indians for cash. Drake was designated for assignment earlier this week. In 11 relief appearances, Drake was 1-0 with a 6.39 ERA.
Brewers: C Stephen Vogt, at Double-A Biloxi on a rehab assignment for a strained right shoulder, exited Saturday night’s minor league game in the sixth inning after attempting to throw out a runner at third.
Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (3-2) is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA in five career starts against Milwaukee.
Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (3-2) was 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA in three starts against Pittsburgh last season.