It took the Pirates extra innings to pull off today’s victory as Josh Harrison scored Gift Ngoepe on a walk off hit.
Pittsburgh (14-16) found themselves getting on base today but once again struggling to score runs. With 11 hits and a walk, they went 3-11 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base. This was likely frustrating for Gerrit Cole as he pitched another gem today but was denied a chance for the win.
Cole came into this game with a 2.61 ERA in the past 31 innings (3.50 on the year) and went seven strong innings once again. Giving up just two hits (one for his seventh home run allowed this year) and two walks, Cole struck out eight batters to lower his season ERA to 3.14. His only real mishap was a 94.4 MPH fastball throw high and tight to Hernan Perez in the 4th inning. Perez turned on this pitch and slammed it 394 feet over the left field wall to open the scoring tonight.
The Brewers (15-16) sent veteran Matt Garza on the mound tonight who pitched productively as well. Garza also lasted seven innings, but allowed eight hits and no walks to go with his one earned run. Garza got into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the 6th when the bases became loaded with no outs. With Cole, Harrison, and Josh Bell on the bases, he forced Andrew McCucthen into a 5-2 double play. Next, he induced a ground ball from Gregory Polanco to end the jam.
Pittsburgh’s bullpen successfully allowed the Pirates to be patient and win the game in extra innings. Felipe Rivero entered in the 8th to relieve Gerrit and struck out the side while hitting 100 MPH on a few occasions. It’s hard to argue the value Rivero brings this team. He currently holds a 0.49 ERA in 18.1 innings pitches with 19 strikeouts and four walks. Seeing his low walk rate is fantastic since its something he struggled with in his career. He also holds a 60.9% ground ball rate for the season. Tony Watson pitched an abnormal two innings today. Watson would only allow one hit while striking out two in route to earning his first win of the year. He would also lower his ERA under a run at a 0.73.
Josh Bell continued his torrid by collecting two hits, one being a 394 foot double right into the notch. He has now hit .338 since April 17th with five home runs and three doubles and eight walks. Josh Harrison also collected two more hits tonight which raises his season batting average to a .298.
Tomorrow the Pirates will play their third and final game of this series in hopes of their third sweep this season.