Cruz HR keys outburst as Pirates beat Brewers 5-3, end skid
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Rookie Oneil Cruz hit a three-run homer to spark a five-run sixth inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied for a 5-3 victory over the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night, snapping a seven-game skid.
Cruz hit a blast to dead center field off reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes, pulling the Pirates into a 3-all tie. Pittsburgh then added two runs to win for the first time since July 23.
“My mindset was to make sure I was going to get a good at-bat, to see good pitches,” Cruz said. “The goal was to at least score one run. Being able to go in there and take a good look at some good pitches and be able to crush that ball, it meant everything right there.”
Fellow rookies Blight Madris and Cal Mitchell walked ahead of Cruz’s homer and that impressed Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton.
“I think we had a really big moment that inning with three rookies,” Shelton said. “For (Cruz) to take an 87-, 88-mph changeup that looked like it was off the plate away and hit it straightaway to dead center field off the reigning Cy Young Award winner, I think it’s a huge moment. I want to make sure we highlight the two at-bats before that with Madris and Mitchell. We talk about rookies are going to do things that frustrate you, and they’re going to do things that make you smile.”
The Brewers had their four-game winning streak snapped, one day after trading All-Star closer Josh Hader to San Diego. Milwaukee had also won seven of eight.
Pittsburgh managed just four hits, but Burnes (8-5) walked five in 5 1/3 innings as his five-game winning streak ended. Burnes was charged with four runs and struck out six to raise his NL-leading total to 166.
Milwaukee got all of its runs on solo home runs in the sixth inning off Pirates starter Bryse Wilson. Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez hit back-to-back shots – the 21st of the season for each – to lead off the inning and snap a scoreless tie then Kolten Wong connected with one out.
Wong’s homer chased Wilson, who was charged with three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings while striking out two and walking one.
“I threw three bad curveballs and they all got hit out of the park,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t a lack of focus, it was just a lack of execution.”
Wong went 3 for 3 before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. He made a critical error in the decisive sixth inning. Adames and Tellez had two hits each.
Burnes did not attribute the loss to the surprise of the Hader trade.
“Everyone knows it’s a business,” Burnes said. “Even the best reliever in baseball can be traded.”
After Cruz’s homer drew the Pirates even, Josh VanMeter walked and Brad Boxberger relieved Burnes. VanMeter stole second and scored on a single by Tyler Heineman, who advanced to third on Wong’s throwing error. Wong tried to catch Heineman rounding first base.
Heineman then scored on Victor Caratini’s passed ball.
Colin Holderman (5-0) pitched one scoreless inning after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier in the day. The rookie was making his Pirates’ debut after being acquired from the New York Mets on July 22 for designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach.
Wil Crowe pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save.
LIFE WITHOUT HADER
Manager Craig Counsell said the Brewers will use Devin Williams and left-hander Taylor Rogers to close games after trading All-Star closer Josh Hader to San Diego on Monday. Rogers was part of the return from the Padres.
Hader had 125 saves in six seasons with the Brewers and was selected to four All-Star Games. He converted 29 of 31 save opportunities this season.
Rogers was 28 of 35 in save chances for the Padres. Williams, the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year, has converted all six opportunities and has not been scored on in his last 30 appearances.
The Brewers also acquired veteran right-hander Trevor Rosenthal from San Francisco on Tuesday in a trade for outfield prospect Tristan Peters. Rosenthal has 132 career saves, but has not pitched in the major leagues since 2020 because of a shoulder injury.
Rosenthal is currently on the 15-day injured list with a strained left hamstring.
QUINTANA VOID UNFILLED
The Pirates have not named a probable starting pitcher for Thursday’s game with the Brewers.
Left-hander Jose Quintana had been scheduled to pitch that day. However, he and reliever Chris Stratton were traded to St. Louis late Monday night for right-hander Johan Oviedo and corner infield prospect Malcom Nunez.
Oviedo was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he will transition from reliever to starter. Nunez was assigned to Double-A Altoona.
BUCS GET BEASLEY
The Pirates acquired right-handed reliever Jeremy Beasley from Toronto for cash considerations Tuesday. He was optioned to Indianapolis.
A LOT OF PLAYERS
Holderman became the 57th player to see action for the Pirates this season. That is the most players used by any major league team this season.
Brewers: RHP Freddy Peralta, out since May 23 with a right lat strain, is expected to be activated from the 60-day IL Wednesday night and start against the Pirates. … RHP Jandel Gustave was placed on the 15-day IL with right elbow discomfort. … RHP Luis Perdomo was activated from the 15-day IL and optioned to Triple-A Nashville. He had been sidelined since May 28 with a right elbow effusion.
Pirates: All Star RHP David Bednar was unavailable to close because of a lower-back issue. … RHP Chase De Jong was reinstated from the 15-day IL. He had been out since July 17 with left knee tendinitis. … RHP Nick Mears (right elbow surgery) had his rehab assignment transferred from Low-A Bradenton to Indianapolis.
Brewers: Peralta (3-2, 4.42 ERA) allowed one run over 5 1/3 innings in two rehab starts with Nashville.
Pirates: RHP Zach Thompson (3-8, 5.09) has allowed seven runs in each of his last two starts after giving up two earned runs or less in 10 of his previous 11 starts.
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By JOHN PERROTTO