Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny was hit hard for a third straight start and the Pittsburgh Pirates got a three-run homer from newly acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd en route to a 7-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday night at PNC Park.
Gorzelanny (3-6) surrendered four runs and nine hits in 5.1 innings and lost for the second straight start. Over his last three starts, the lefty has been touched for 16 runs and 25 hits in 13.2 innings. His 99 pitches Wednesday night was a season high.
While Gorzelanny has struggled this year the third time through a lineup (opponents are hitting .394 when facing Gorzelanny for the third time in a game), Pittsburgh zeroed in on the former Pirate quickly.
Andrew McCutchen drove in a run with a single in the top of the first and only a terrific defensive play by Gorzelanny prevented a bigger inning. Byrd lined a shot right at Gorzelanny that the lefty gloved and threw to first to double off McCutchen.
It remained 1-0 until the fourth. McCutchen was in the middle of this scoring effort for the Pirates, leading off the inning with a single to left. After Byrd struck out to end an epic 14-pitch at-bat, McCutchen stole second and went to third when Scooter Gennett made an amazing diving stop on a hard shot by Pedro Alvarez in short right-field. The play saved a run.
But the reprieve was temporary for Gorzelanny. Gaby Sanchez bounced a single through the right side to score McCutchen and make it 2-0 Pittsburgh.
Jose Tabata led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple off the right-field wall and one out later, Josh Harrison scored him with a single to left-center. Jordy Mercer cracked a double into the right-center field gap to score Harrison and give the Pirates a 4-0 lead.
Milwaukee’s only run came in the seventh and it was unearned. Gennett singled with one out and Juan Francisco coaxed a walk. Pinch-hitter Yuniesky Betancourt hit into a fielder’s choice, with Francisco erased on a force at second. With Norichika Aoki batting, catcher Russell Martin tried to catch Betancourt too far off first base, but the throw sailed up the right-field line. Gennett scored and Betancourt advanced to third. Aoki walked and that ended the night for Morton. Jean Segura greeted reliever Vin Mazzaro with a screaming line drive right at Harrison at second base to end the inning.
Pittsburgh put the game away in the seventh off reliever Burke Badenhop. Harrison led off with a single off Badenhop’s glove and went to second when the Milwaukee right-hander fired the ball into the stands behind first base. Mercer reached on a bunt single and after McCutchen struck out, Byrd launched a shot into the shrubbery in straightaway center field. Byrd was acquired Tuesday along with catcher John Buck in a trade from the New York Mets and was playing his first game as a Pirate on Wednesday. The homer, his 22nd of the season, made it 7-1.
The Crew’s last chance to score came in the eighth. Jonathan Lucroy reached on an error by shortstop Clint Barmes, who had just entered as a defensive replacement, and Carlos Gomez and Caleb Gindl later singled to load the bases. But Gennett flew out to shallow center and Francisco popped out in foul territory near third base to end the potential rally.
Morton (6-3) was solid for the Pirates, working 6.2 innings and allowing just an unearned run on five hits. The Pirates were also good with men on base, stranding 10 runners and holding Milwaukee to just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
The three-game series concludes with the rubber game Thursday night. Yovani Gallardo (9-9) gets the ball for the Brewers, to be opposed by rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole (6-6). The game is set for 6:05 p.m. Central Time and will be carried regionally on Fox Sports Wisconsin.
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