Brewers claim ‘weird’ contest
Ron Roenicke chose the word goofy, but there were many adjectives the Brewers skipper could have used to describe Friday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Sloppy, ugly, whatever. It didn’t matter in the end.
Milwaukee overcame four errors in the field and a couple of blunders on the bases to come away with a 5-3 win over Pittsburgh, evening the four-game weekend series at a game apiece.
"It wasn’t pretty," Brewers starter Kyle Lohse said. "I mean, they all count the same. Sometimes you have to win ugly. Sometimes everything goes just right and you catch breaks.
"Tonight was just kind of a grind it out kind of night. We got some key hits in some big situations. That’s what it takes to win ballgames sometimes."
The night got bizarre right off the bat, as the Brewers gift wrapped a run for the Pirates in the bottom of the first. Starling Marte led off with a routine pop up in the infield that eventually fell when first baseman Mark Reynolds collided with third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Initially ruled a hit, the play was eventually called an error on Reynolds.
Marte then stole second and was able to move up to third when Martin Maldonado’s throw sailed into the outfield. Russell Martin helped Pittsburgh take advantage of the blunders by driving in Marte on a groundout to short.
The Brewers committed another error in the fourth inning, but Lohse was able to limit the damage by working out of a bases-loaded jam. Martin singled to center to drive in a run, but Carlos Gomez bobbled the ball in center. He recovered to throw to shortstop Jean Segura, but he dropped the ball and the runners were safe at second and third.
Lohse was able to work out of trouble by fanning Pedro Alvarez and getting Neil Walker to pop out to Ramirez.
"It’s always good to win games you don’t play that well," Roenicke said. "We played well from that point on. We played well after a shaky start.
"We were fortunate to win the game, especially the way we started out."
Scooter Gennett tied the game at 2-all with a two-run double in the fourth inning, and the Brewers took the lead later in the frame on a two-out RBI single from Maldonado. A solo home run to dead center by Gomez increased Milwaukee’s lead to 5-2 in the fifth.
After striking out in his first two at-bats, Gomez squared up a changeup from Pirates starter Charlie Morton and crushed it.
"You have to make an adjustments," Gomez said. "I saw what they threw me in my first two at-bats. That third at-bat, I was looking for the changeup the whole at-bat, and he threw me one. I put a good swing on it."
The Brewers could have imploded early on had it not been for the effort of Lohse. The right-hander allowed just one earned run over 6 1/3 innings, having his outing shortened by the numerous errors behind him.
An error by Jean Segura allowed Clint Barmes to reach to start the seventh inning, as he eventually came around to score Pittsburgh’s third run of the night.
"I thought Lohse was great again," Roenicke said. "I think he got a little tired there in the last inning when I took him out, but before that he was on his game. The fastball was great. Great changeup again. The curveball was good, and the slider is always usually pretty good."
Like last time out, Lohse fought early command issues against the Pirates before settling into a nice rhythm. His last start against Pittsburgh called for him to not use all of his off-speed pitches early on by design; Friday the same thing happened but out of necessity. Eventually he had all four pitches working in the middle innings.
"He’s been pitching good," Maldonado said. "He’s been locating his fastball. He was battling early in the game and then he took control. When he throws four pitches for strikes all game long, it makes it easy for me."
What started sloppy and strange, including Maldonado literally hitting the cover off the baseball on a grounder in the sixth, ended with a pair of great defensive plays by Reynolds. With a runner on first, Reynolds knocked down a rocket off the bat of Alvarez and recovered in time to get the out.
He then ended the game by leaping to corral a line drive from Walker, batting the ball to his bare hand with his glove.
"It was just a weird night," Lohse said. "Glad to win that one."
Return of a familiar face: The Brewers signed right-handed reliever Jeremy Jeffress to a minor-league deal Friday, bringing Milwaukee’s 2006 first-round pick back into the organization.
Jeffress was designated for assignment by Toronto last week after beginning the season on the team’s Opening Day roster. The 26-year-old allowed four earned runs in 3 1/3 innings for the Blue Jays this season before being let go.
Traded by the Brewers to the Royals as part of the Zack Greinke trade, Jeffress is set to eventually join the bullpen at Triple-A Nashville after first reporting to Milwaukee’s spring-training facility in Phoenix.
Jeffress has had his share of troubles, including a 50-game and a 100-game suspension for marijuana use. One more positive test would mean Jeffress is banned from baseball for life. He’s also battled juvenile epilepsy leading to seizures and anxiety.
The talent has always been there, however, as the Brewers gave Jeffress a $1.55 million signing bonus after selecting him 16th overall out of Halifax County High School (Va.) in 2006.
Jeffress made his major-league debut with the Brewers in 2010, posting a 2.70 ERA in 10 innings out of the bullpen. He pitched in 14 games with the Royals in 2011 and 13 games in 2012 before being traded to Toronto.
Spending the majority of 2013 in the minor leagues, Jeffress had a 1.65 ERA in 25 relief appearances for Triple-A Buffalo.
Jeffress is 3-1 with a 4.47 ERA in 52 1/3 innings over 50 big-league games with the Brewers, Royals and Blue Jays.
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