The Pirates came into tonight’s contest looking to end a four game skid and realistically get anything they could going in the right direction. The Brewers on the other hand had their sights set on climbing back to .500 and remaining in the playoff picture in the NL Central. For Pittsburgh right hander Chad Kuhl would make his second straight start without the planned “piggyback” in his sixth appearance of the season. Opposing him was former second round draft pick for the Houston Astros, Adrian Houser, who was making his fifth start in Milwaukee’s rotation this year. Both men had come into game with solid numbers on the season, however, Houser had struggled during his last two starts, allowing 4 to Twins and 3 runs to the Cubs, while Kuhl has his own troubles against Cincinnati in his last start, giving up 3 runs. In each of these games the two young hurlers only made it through 5 innings before they were ultimately removed.
Through the first 3 innings on Friday night Kuhl and Houser’s lines were almost identical as they both allowed only one run on solo shots from Ben Gamel and Bryan Reynolds. In the 4th Kuhl’s strong start continued, thanks in part to a diving catch by Reynolds to rob Christian Yelich of at least a base hit. Houser was not so lucky as the Pirates pounded him with a barrage of singles, giving them 4-1 lead entering the 5th.
After 84 pitches and 5 innings Kuhl was lifted having only given up the 1 run on 2 total hits. His swing and miss stuff was not as on point as it had been in the past, striking out a single batter while walking 3 in the effort. He was replaced by Sam Howard and Geoff Hartlieb in succession. Howard would last only 2/3 of an inning, leaving 2 on and 2 out for Hartlieb. He would eventually work out of the jam, but not before he made things truly interesting by walking the bases full. The 7th inning was less eventful for Hartlieb as he retired the Brewers in order, striking out Keston Hiura swinging for the third out.
Houser stayed in through the 7th, not permitting the Pirates to score another run, but the damage had already been done. His final line was 4 runs on 9 hits with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts on 98 pitches. It would be up to the Brewers bullpen to hold Pittsburgh’s batters in check if they would have any hope of a late inning comeback.
To open the 8th Christian Yelich tried to start the rally as he homered off Richard Rodriguez to left center field, bringing the Brewers within two. However, the Pirates has other ideas as they scored 3 in the bottom of the ninth on a two run triple by Reynolds, followed by an single off the bat of Cole Tucker; his third of the night.
Keone Kela was called upon for the 3rd time since joining the Pirates after being activated on August 13th, none of which have been a save opportunity. Kela would only face one batter, giving up a single, before he was removed from the game with tightness in his forearm. Recently acquired Tyler Bashlor came in to make his second appearance, immediately inducing a double play and a ground out to end the game. And for the first time in what seems like forever, the Pirates got to Raise The Jolly Roger!
The Pirates will look to string a couple of wins together as they once again take on Brewers at PNC. Derek Holland will take the mound for Pittsburgh against Josh Lindblom. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 EST.