Braun's home run powers Brewers past Pirates, 3-1
PITTSBURGH -- Milwaukee put its first two runners on base Friday night, and that brought up the perfect hitter to face Tom Gorzelanny. Ryan Braun continued his success against the left-hander by hitting a three-run home run, and the Brewers hande...
PITTSBURGH -- Milwaukee put its first two runners on base Friday night, and that brought up the perfect hitter to face Tom Gorzelanny.
Ryan Braun continued his success against the left-hander by hitting a three-run home run, and the Brewers handed the Pittsburgh Pirates their eighth straight loss with a 3-1 win.
Dave Bush (9-9) allowed one run in 6 2-3 innings for Milwaukee, which increased its lead in the NL wild-card race to 4 1/2 games over St. Louis, which lost 3-2 at Houston.
The Brewers, looking to make the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, have won six of seven games and improved to 9-1 this season against the last-place Pirates.
''Every game right now is of equal importance and significance,'' Braun said. ''It's important for us to take everybody seriously.''
After Rickie Weeks singled and J.J. Hardy walked in the first against Gorzelanny (6-9), Braun hit his 34th home run of the season into the first row of the right-field seats.
Braun, who went 2-for-4, is 8-for-17 with three home runs and nine RBIs in his career against Gorzelanny. He also homered last Saturday against the pitcher in a 6-3 win at Milwaukee.
''It's just lefties in general,'' Braun said. ''I normally see the ball well. He's a good pitcher. Hopefully, I can keep that up. We'll see what happens.''
Gorzelanny settled down after Braun's home run and retired 21 of the final 24 batters he faced. He allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings.
''He started banging strikes and keeping the ball down,'' Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. ''We never really had another opportunity. He pitched really, really well.''
It was an encouraging outing for Gorzelanny, who was making his second start since being recalled from a lengthy stay at Triple-A Indianapolis.
''I didn't get down on myself after the first inning,'' said Gorzelanny, who's lost his past three major-league starts, all to Milwaukee. ''I put it behind me and didn't let it get me down.''
Pittsburgh manager John Russell praised his starter, but cautioned against getting too excited over the outing.
''He threw the ball better than he has all year,'' he said. ''But at some point, our pitchers have to understand that a good outing is a win. ... You can lose a game in the first inning. We have to change the mentality that someone threw well, but lost 4-3, 10-5, or whatever.''
Nate McLouth homered and had two hits for the Pirates, who have lost 12 of 14 games.
Bush, who won for the first time in five career starts at PNC Park, allowed six hits. Salomon Torres pitched a scoreless ninth for his 26th save.
''It's nice when you score early,'' Bush said. ''It takes a little pressure off knowing that one swing isn't going to beat you.''
Still, the right-hander had to work out of some trouble in the early innings.
Pittsburgh put two runners on base in the second, loaded the bases in the third thanks to a pair of Milwaukee errors and put two more on in the fourth, but failed to score a run. The Pirates stranded 11 runners.
''We scored three in the first,'' Yost said. ''You'd like to tack on and make it easier throughout the game, but Bush made it hold up.''
McLouth hit his 23rd home run of the season, and first since July 28, in the fifth to make it 3-1. The Pirates center fielder also walked in the third and singled in the seventh.
Freddy Sanchez also had two hits for the Pirates.
It was another frustrating night offensively for Pittsburgh, which has scored three runs or fewer in 17 of 26 games in August.
''We just can't score runs right now,'' Russell said. ''We can't seem to get the big hit.''
CREW CUTS: Milwaukee's Jason Kendall started his 121st game at catcher, tying the franchise's single-season record set by Darrell Porter in 1975. ... Braun matched his home run total from 2007, when he won the Rookie of the Year award. ... Milwaukee reliever Eric Gagne rejoined the team after being home in Arizona for the birth of a son. Gagne, who arrived just before the start of the game, retired the only two batters he faced in the eighth. ... Milwaukee is 18-7 in August while the Pirates are 7-19. ... Pirates SS Jack Wilson went 1-for-4 and has hit safely in 13 of his past 14 home games. ... The Pirates recorded only four ground-ball outs against Bush. ... Before Friday's game, Pittsburgh manager John Russell said he plans to use a rotation in September that will include a sixth starter on a couple of occasions.