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Pittsburgh Pirates propel past Milwaukee Brewers

By
Andrew Wagner, The Sports Xchange
Pittsburgh Pirates' Starling Marte. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Pittsburgh Pirates' Starling Marte. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

MILWAUKEE -- Everything seems to be clicking these days for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are charging their way back into the mix for a National League wild card berth.

John Jaso, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte each hit a solo home run as the Pirates finished off their first-ever four-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers with a 3-1 victory Sunday afternoon at Miller Park.

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"That was a really good series on the road for us," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "We played really good baseball. Anderson has us off balance for a while but we were able to scratch two off of him with solo shots. Defense again today, too. Guys had fun. We met the demands of the game. It was a series that mattered and we showed up well."

Ivan Nova (11-6) stayed undefeated since joining the Pirates, holding the Brewers to just a run - a solo homer by Jonathan Villar in the third - on two hits in six innings. He did not issue a walk and struck out four in the win.

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"The command on my pitches was big for me today," said Nova, who is 4-0 with a 2.47 ERA with Pittsburgh.

Nova needed just 75 pitches to get through his six innings but left the game because of discomfort in his left hamstring.

"It'd be pretty silly for the manager to push him out there for one more inning and he blows his hamstring," Hurdle said. "We were very pleased with that effort. He really got after it after a nine-inning outing the last time out. He pitched efficient again."

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Brewers starter Chase Anderson (7-11) cruised through his first five innings, scattering three hits and a walk while striking out five.

He'd only thrown 89 pitches so manager Craig Counsell felt confident sending Anderson back out for the sixth.

"It's kind of the decision you have to make every game when a pitcher is at that point," Counsell said. "He'd thrown five really solid innings, he'd pitched very well and in the game situation, we're trying to get -- with our bullpen, how much it's been used -- we're trying to get another inning out of him."

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Unfortunately for the Brewers, the move backfired.

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Jaso led off the sixth with a solo shot that tied the game at 1 and Polanco chased Anderson to batters later with a solo homer to center, putting the Pirates ahead.

"Bad execution on that pitch and the one to Jaso, too," Anderson said. "I missed my spot by probably a foot."

Jhan Marinez put two more runners on before getting out of the inning then worked a scoreless seventh but Marte greeted Carlos Torres with his eighth homer of the season to open the eighth inning.

"I'm still a slap hitter," Marte said. "But given some opportunities, I've got to show what I've got. I'm glad I was able to produce for my team."

Marte finished with three hits and Tony Watson earned his 10th save with a scoreless ninth for the Pirates, who have won eight consecutive road games and move onto Chicago for a three-game set with the NL Central-leading Cubs.

"We're going to leave here in a good place but we've got to show up in Chicago," Hurdle said. "We'll look forward to it. I don't think you could ask for much more here at the end of August. We get to play meaningful games. It should be fun."

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Milwaukee had won four straight coming into the series, but has lost 11 of its last 15.

NOTES: With RHP Gerrit Cole officially scratched from his scheduled Monday start, Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle set his rotation for the Pirates' upcoming series at Wrigley Field. LHP Steven Brault will be called up from Triple-A Indianapolis Monday and take Cole's spot against the Cubs Monday with RHP Chad Kuhl (3-1, 3.50 ERA) and RHP Ryan Vogelsong (3-3, 3.02) following on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. ... Pittsburgh had lost nine in a row in Milwaukee before taking the four-game series. The Pirates took the first three games for their first series victory at Miller Park since 2013. Pittsburgh hasn't swept a series in Milwaukee since April 30-May 2, 2004. ... Brewers INF Will Middlebrooks picked up two hits Saturday night and will be back in the starting lineup as he continues a minor league rehab assignment with Double-A Biloxi. ... Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell gave LF Ryan Braun a day off Sunday - his first since Aug. 17.

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