Brewers top Pirates behind homers from Braun, Davis
With the Milwaukee Brewers down to their final two outs, Ryan Braun did it again.
Just as he did to win Saturday night’s game, Braun homered off Pirates closer Jason Grilli in the ninth inning. This time he tied the game, sending it to extra innings.
Khris Davis finally broke the tie with a solo home run off Pirates reliever Jeanmar Gomez in the top of the 14th and Francisco Rodriguez slammed the door in the bottom half of the inning, giving the Brewers a 3-2 win.
By taking three of four in Pittsburgh, the Brewers are the first National League team since the 1994 Atlanta Braves to start 9-1 on the road.
"It’s great to win those games," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "They are really hard to lose. You throw everything you have out there and if you come out on the losing end it’s difficult."
There was even more emotion in Sunday’s game because of a benches-clearing brawl that occurred in the third inning. Pirates starter Gerrit Cole took offense to how Carlos Gomez reacted after hitting a triple with two outs in the inning, saying something to the Brewers centerfielder near the third-base bag.
Gomez took his time getting out of the batters’ box and might have had an inside-the-park home run if he had hustled from the get go. Third-base umpire Jim Reynolds got between Gomez and Cole, but benches had already cleared.
Pirates outfielder Travis Snider, who wasn’t in the lineup Sunday, tackled Gomez and then appeared to get punched by Brewers backup catcher Martin Maldonado.
Gomez, Snider and Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron were ejected.
"It’s too hard for me when I’m in the dugout to see what happened," Roenicke said. "I know Cole said something to him first. Gomey is going to respond. Any time a pitcher says something to a guy, the guy is going to respond. The next thing I know a guy is flying out there after Gomey, and I really don’t know what happened after that."
Things eventually calmed down, as Cole and Brewers starter Marco Estrada settled into quite the pitchers’ duel.
The only blemish against Estrada came when Neil Walker crushed a 3-1 changeup out to right field, putting the Pirates up 1-0 in the fourth. Estrada allowed just the one run on six hits in six innings, lowering his ERA to 2.66.
It didn’t appear as if the Brewers were going to muster much offensively against Cole, but Mark Reynolds led off the top of the eighth with a solo home run to right-center field to even the score at 1-1.
Jim Henderson got the first two outs of the bottom of the eighth inning before the Pirates were able to scratch across the go-ahead run. Ike Davis singled with two outs, leading Roenicke to turn to left-hander Will Smith.
Walker blooped a single to right to send Davis to third. He then scored when Jose Tabata legged out an infield single, just beating an off-balanced throw from second baseman Scooter Gennett.
After hitting a first-pitch fastball over the fence against Grilli on Saturday, Braun’s tying home run came on an 0-1 slider Sunday. Milwaukee hadn’t scored against Grilli in over seven years prior to causing him to blow two saves in two nights.
The Brewers had a runner at third with one out in the 12th inning but ended up leaving the bases loaded. Another scoring chance presented itself in the 13th inning, but Jonathan Lucroy popped out with runners on second and third to end the frame.
Davis picked a great time to hit his first home run of the season, finally breaking the 2-2 tie by hitting a slider out to right field.
"I was looking to do something small and help the team get something going," Davis said. "Something small turns into something big, I feel like."
Davis wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hit the game-winning home run if the bullpen hadn’t been lights out yet again. Tyler Thornburg, Henderson, Smith, Rob Wooten and Zach Duke combined to allow just one run on seven hits in eight innings, keeping the Pirates off the scoreboard for six consecutive innings.
"Not just getting the zeros, but they really threw the ball well," Roenicke said. "Smith was unbelievable. Duke, all of them really threw it well. They keep doing it. I didn’t know if we ever were going to score, but if they do that long enough it gives somebody a chance to pop one."
Considering the Brewers could have easily been swept by the Pirates in four games, winning three of four to improve to a major-league best 14-5 is a major coup. Milwaukee won games where it didn’t play well on Friday and Saturday and outlasted Pittsburgh in an emotional battle Sunday.
"I think we’re sticking together and finding a way to get it done," Davis said. "There have been some ugly things, and we’ve just stayed together. It’s just happened to swing our way."
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