Milwaukee 5, Pittsburgh 2
When: 7:40 PM ET, Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Where: Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Bruce Dreckman, 1B -
Bill Welke, 2B -
Jordan Baker, 3B -
MILWAUKEE -- With their starting pitcher still building himself back up after a stint on the disabled list and their playoff hopes still alive, the Milwaukee Brewers needed all hands on deck Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
And the Brewers answered the call as the bullpen combined for six shutout innings after taking over for Brent Suter while Eric Thames socked his 29th home run of the season and Domingo Santana collected three hits in a 5-2 victory at Miller Park.
"We are in a playoff hunt," Thames said. "It is not like we are 15, 20 games out. We are right there, the energy is high in this dugout. Just got to keep it rolling.
Thames' homer was his first since Aug. 29 and only his second in the past month. He added an RBI single in the third inning to cap his first multi-hit game since Aug. 18.
"For us to do something pretty special, he is one of the guys we need a good three weeks from," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He is certainly capable of it and tonight was a good start."
Both of his hits -- and two of Santana's -- came at the expense of Gerrit Cole (11-10). The Pirates right-hander struck out 10 batters but gave up all five Milwaukee runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings.
"Get five runs off (Cole) and you feel like you had a pretty good night," Counsell said.
After the Brewers scored four in the third, Cole held Milwaukee to two hits and struck out six over his final three innings.
"I thought his last three innings were real strong," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Really, it was less than a handful of pitches that caused the scoring."
The Brewers' bullpen worked six scoreless innings in relief of left-hander Brent Suter, who allowed two runs, three hits and a walk in three innings. It was Suter's second start and third appearance since returning from the disabled list earlier this month.
Jeremy Jeffress (3-0) struck out three in 1 2/3 innings, and Corey Knebel posted his 35th save with a perfect ninth.
Thames' home run gave Suter a 1-0 lead in the second inning, but the Pirates jumped in front in the third. Sean Rodriguez came home on Jordy Mercer's groundout. An RBI single by Jordan Luplow put Pittsburgh on top 2-1, but Suter stranded runners at second and third to get out of the inning.
Milwaukee put up four in the bottom of the inning, with Ryan Braun hitting an RBI grounder and Santana adding a two-run double.
The Brewers added one more on Thames' base hit, but the rally came to an end when Santana tried to score on the play.
"They smelled blood in the water," Cole said. "I was maybe counting on my opponent I guess in that situation to try maybe get us a break. It just didn't happen."
Jeremy Jeffress (3-0) took over for Suter in the fourth and worked around a pair of walks to keep Milwaukee ahead. Back-to-back singles by Mercer and Luplow put the Pirates in business in the fifth but Jeffress struck out Andrew McCutchen and David Freese before giving way to Oliver Drake, who got pinch-hitter Josh Bell to ground out, ending the inning.
"We didn't have many opportunities after that," Hurdle said.
Credit that to Milwaukee's relief corps, which allowed only one base runner and struck out four over the final four innings with Corey Knebel whiffing a pair in the ninth for his 35th save of the season.
"Six scoreless innings from your bullpen is solid," Counsell said. "The pitching was outstanding."
Both Chicago, the NL Central leader, and second place St. Louis won their games Tuesday night, as well, so Milwaukee remained 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs and a half-game back of St. Louis in the divisional race.
NOTES: Brewers manager Craig Counsell announced RHP Chase Anderson would start on short rest Wednesday in the series finale against the Pirates. Anderson needed just 65 pitches to cover five innings as the Brewers routed the Cubs on Saturday in his last start. ... Milwaukee RHP Jimmy Nelson will seek a second opinion on his injured right shoulder Wednesday in Los Angeles. Nelson was lost for the season when he tore his labrum and strained the rotator cuff in his shoulder Friday at Chicago. ... RHP Chad Kuhl will start Friday for the Pirates when they open a three-game series at Cincinnati. Manager Clint Hurdle was considering skipping Kuhl's next turn but opted to bump RHP Trevor Williams instead. ... Pittsburgh announced that pitching coach Ray Searage agreed to terms on a contract extension.
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