Red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates complete four-game sweep of Milwaukee Brewers

By Bob Cohn, The Sports Xchange  |  July 20, 2017 at 4:29 PM
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PITTSBURGH -- The Milwaukee Brewers slipped out town Thursday after their lead in the National League Central continued to slip away.

The Pittsburgh Pirates' 4-2 win at PNC Park completed a four-game sweep that not only imperiled the Brewers -- still in first place, for now -- but thrust the home team into a tightening, four-team race.

Eight games out of first place on Saturday, Pittsburgh, which has won five straight and 11 of its last 13 games, now trails the Brewers by three. Milwaukee, after a fifth straight loss, leads the Chicago Cubs by one. St. Louis remained 4 1/2 games back after losing to the New York Mets.

As in the series' first three games, the Pirates got quality pitching and just enough offense. Right-hander Jameson Taillon gave up two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, striking out eight. The bullpen was spotless, and Gregory Polanco hit his ninth home run.

Chris Stewart opened the scoring in the second inning with the Pirates' third straight two-out single.

Taillon (6-3) stranded two base-runners in the first and struck out seven in the first three innings before a walk, an infield single, Brett Phillips' RBI double and Orlando Arcia's infield out gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead in the fourth.

Right-hander Jimmy Nelson (8-5) struck out the side in the bottom of the inning but also yielded Polanco's game-tying homer. In the fifth, RBI singles by Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen provided the Pirates' two-run lead.

Taillon, who underwent testicular cancer surgery on May 8 and missed nearly six weeks, gave up Manny Pina's one-out double in the sixth and departed after a season-high 116 pitches.

Left-hander Matt LeBlanc struck out pinch hitter Keon Broxton, but walked Arcia, putting runners on first and second for Ryan Braun, pinch-hitting on a rest day. The Brewers' star put the threat to rest with a weak fly ball to right field.

Pirates right-hander Juan Nicasio quelled another potential rally when Arcia hit into a double play with one out and two on in the eighth. Felipe Rivero pitched the ninth for his ninth save.

NOTES: The Pirates start a nine-game, 10-day trip in Colorado on Friday having won five of their last six road games and nine of their last 14. ... The Brewers' five-game losing streak ties a season high set at the end of May. ... Pittsburgh has won five straight series.

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