MILWAUKEE – Clint Hurdle insisted the Pittsburgh Pirates weren’t thinking about their long losing streak against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Starling Marte hit a tying two-run homer in the eighth inning and Brandon Inge had a go-ahead RBI single to rally Pittsburgh to a 6-4 victory over Milwaukee Wednesday, snapping the Pirates’ nine-game skid to the Brewers.
“We don’t make (the losing streak) as big as everybody else does because a lot of these guys weren’t here,” Pittsburgh manager Hurdle said. “They don’t feel the baggage. They hear the noise but after a while, you don’t need to hear the noise because you know what you need to do. You need to play better and win games. That’s how you stop the noise.”
Pedro Alvarez, who homered earlier in the game, added a run-scoring single to cap a four-run eighth as Pittsburgh won for the 10th time in its last 15 games and ended Milwaukee’s eight-game home winning streak.
“Today was a perfect day that people thought we just weren’t in a good place,” Hurdle said. “We were just behind. We put up a big inning late, we were able to close it out and you can’t ask for much more than that.”
Bryan Morris (1-1) got the last two outs of the seventh when Ryan Braun hit into a double play for his first career victory. Mark Melancon pitched the eighth and Jason Grilli the ninth for his 11th save in 11 opportunities.
“Last night, I walked away from the game with my first major league loss,” Morris said. “And today I throw two pitches and get the win. It is a good feeling. Hopefully, there is more to come.”
John Axford (0-3) gave up all four runs while getting just two outs in the eighth for the Brewers, who were 11-0 when leading after seven innings.
“He’s been pitching well,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. “It was one of those games.”
Axford, removed as the Brewers’ closer earlier this season, replaced starter Hiram Burgos to start the eighth leading 4-2, and gave up a broken-bat, infield single to pinch-hitter Travis Snider.
Marte followed with his two-run homer to left-center on a low fastball, his third of the season and second in two days, to tie the score.
“This year, I’ve been more comfortable,” Marte said. “Looking for the right pitch. I feel very good at the plate, thanks to God.”
Jose Tabata singled and stole second two outs later. He injured his left leg on the slide and was replaced by James McDonald.
McDonald scored the tiebreaking run when Inge blooped a single over the head of second baseman Rickie Weeks, who inadvertently kicked the ball toward the outfield for a two-base error that allowed Inge to advance to third.
“I’ll take ‘em any way I can get them,” Inge said. “I love being up in key spots. I’ve played long enough and have enough time that those situations are the ones you live for. The ones you dream when you are a little kid.”
Axford was booed off the field when he was replaced by Michael Gonzalez, who quickly allowed a single to Alvarez to put the Pirates up 6-4.
“All four of the pitches that were hits appeared to be out of the zone,” Axford said. “In all honesty, I went back and looked at the tape of them, too. The one to Marte was on the plate, but it was below his knees. It was down and I even had a little bit of a run on it.”
In the seventh, Pittsburgh’s Michael McKenry hit a solo homer to right-center off Burgos to trim Milwaukee’s lead to 3-2. The Pirates have hit 11 homers in the last four games.
Burgos allowed four hits and two earned runs in seven innings. The right-handed rookie struck out six and walked one.
The Brewers regained their two-run lead in the bottom of the seventh on Jean Segura’s run-scoring single.
Milwaukee took a 3-1 lead in the fourth on consecutive solo homers by Carlos Gomez and Yuniesky Betancourt.
Braun had an RBI single in the first to put the Brewers up 1-0.
Alvarez’s fifth homer, a solo shot in the second, tied the score.
Pittsburgh’s Jeanmar Gomez made his first start of the season after five relief appearances. The right-hander threw four innings and allowed four hits and three runs – two earned – to go with three strikeouts and two walks.
Gomez replaced left-hander Jonathan Sanchez in the rotation after he was moved to the bullpen Monday with an 0-3 record and 11.85 ERA. On Tuesday, Sanchez was designated for assignment.
Notes: After the game, Milwaukee OF Khris Davis was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. . Hurdle said Tabata would see the doctor and be evaluated today. . Pittsburgh finished its 10-game road trip with a 6-4 record and has won the final game in each of its last six series. ... Gomez is hitting .509 (27 for 53) with five homers in his last 16 games. . C Jonathan Lucroy’s stolen base in the first inning was his first of the season. ... Pittsburgh will play 18 of its next 28 games at PNC Park. ... Before the game, Roenicke indicated Betancourt would become the regular first baseman once Aramis Ramirez (left knee sprain) returns. Betancourt has been filling in for Ramirez at third base, but he’s expected to come off the disabled list any day.