Monday, April 18, 2016

Nicasio solid as Bucs thump Brewers in finale

Backed by a 17-hit day from the Pirates' lineup, right-hander Juan Nicasiothrew six strong innings and led the Bucs to a 9-3 win over the Brewers at PNC Park on Sunday afternoon.
By the time it was over, 11 Pirates had recorded at least one hit. Gregory Polanco and Matt Joyce each picked up three hits and a walk, and leadoff man John Jaso got on base three times. Andrew McCutchen hit his second home run in as many days, and the Pirates compiled as many baserunners as they did outs.
Pittsburgh quickly pulled away in the third inning, when they capitalized on some misplays by Milwaukee and rallied for five runs.
"We have a game plan every day we go in, and there's days it's executed better than others," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The club has continued to build momentum as far as the battle-in-the-box mentality. … We continue to work in a very proper and professional direction offensively."
Nicasio was perfect through three innings, but the Brewers punched back with three runs in the fourth. Coming off a shaky start in Detroit, Nicasio settled down enough to limit the damage to just three runs as he struck out six and walked two over six innings.
"They became a little bit more aggressive," Nicasio said through an interpreter. "That's when I started pitching more inside to them."
Milwaukee's pitching staff, meanwhile, struggled to keep Pittsburgh's hitters off the bases. In addition to racking up the 17 hits, the Pirates -- wearing their stylish 1979 throwback uniforms -- walked seven times and only struck out twice. Sean Rodriguez punctuated the Bucs' big day at the plate by crushing a two-run home run into the left-field rotunda that was projected by Statcast™ at 442 feet.
"As soon as he hit it, I said, 'Oh, wow,'" Polanco said. "It was a bomb."
Keep the line moving: Taking advantage of some of the Brewers' mistakes, the Pirates batted around in a five-run third inning in which McCutchen hit into two of their three outs. Eight straight batters reached safely with one out, chasing Brewers starter Zach Davies from the game and staking the Bucs to an early 6-0 lead.
"That's what we do, man," Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said. "We've got to play our game, and that's what we've been doing." More >
Shaky defense: Davies couldn't make it out of the third, laboring through a 69-pitch outing that included three walks. But he was also the victim of some shaky defense: a catch that could have been made in center field, an error on the shortstop and his own late throw to first base that resulted in a base hit for Nicasio -- all during the Bucs' big inning.
"We had a couple balls off our gloves," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We gave them a couple of extra outs and some extra chances, and they put a big inning on the board."More >
Back so soon? After hitting his first home run of the season Saturday night, McCutchen said it was "about time." He didn't wait long for his second homer, launching a 2-2 changeup fromChris Capuano in the fifth inning into the bushes beyond the center-field fence for his second homer in as many days.
Three up, three down, bailed out: Hard-throwing Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminerohadn't thrown a clean inning since the second game of the season, entering Sunday with a 7.50 ERA and 1.83 WHIP. But he returned to form in the seventh inning, needing only 14 pitches to retire the Brewers in order. Caminero walked two batters in the eighth, but setup man Neftali Feliz struck out Ramon Flores to end the threat.
"I like to catch."
-- Cervelli, on playing first base in the ninth inning
"The losses have been lopsided, and that's our starting pitching. Our starters got to give us a chance. If you're going to count on five, six innings from your bullpen, we're going to wear those guys out. Our starters got to do the job." -- Counsell
Brewers: Right-hander Chase Anderson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his third start of the season and first career start against the Twins when the Brewers open a series in Minnesota on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Anderson's last start was a no-decision in a 6-4 win over St. Louis on Wednesday.
Pirates: After an off-day Monday, the Pirates' rotation will be back at full strength Tuesday night at Petco Park. Left-hander Francisco Liriano, who skipped his last start due to a tight hamstring, will return to the mound as the Bucs and Padres open a three-game series in San Diego at 10:10 p.m. ET.

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