The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 13-game losing streak against the Milwaukee Brewers is history, as one big inning in the nightcap of a doubleheader was enough to overcome a team they’ve had trouble solving for four years.
Estrada is headed back to the Brewers’ bullpen after Tuesday night’s start at PNC Park, but first he’ll try to beat the Pirates for the second time in his three spot starts.
Milwaukee (77-53) entered Monday’s twinbill having won 44 of 55 against Pittsburgh since 2008, and cruised again in the opener, getting five extra-base hits en route to an 8-1 rout.
The Pirates (60-67), however, didn’t let their 13-game skid against the Brewers stretch any further. Tied at 2 in the nightcap, Pittsburgh scored seven times in the seventh inning, finally exorcising its Milwaukee demons in a 9-2 victory.
“We were able to do some things we haven’t been able to do against them, getting some timely hits, getting some hits with runners in scoring position, running the bases aggressively,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates did none of those things when they faced Estrada (3-8, 4.28 ERA) on Aug. 13 at Miller Park. The right-hander, filling in for then-injured Chris Narveson(notes), held the Pirates to one single over five innings while striking out five in a 1-0 victory.
Estrada pitched well again Thursday against Los Angeles, allowing just a solo homer and two other hits in five innings. However, the Brewers’ offense couldn’t provide him any help in a 5-1 loss to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw(notes).
As solid as he’s been as a spot starter, it’s unclear when - or if - Estrada will get another shot in the rotation. With Narveson back, Estrada is only needed to start Tuesday due to Monday’s doubleheader.
“It’s fine,” Estrada told the Brewers’ official website. “I’m here. I’m in the big leagues and I’ll do whatever it takes to stay here, whether it’s starting, relieving, batboy. Whatever.”
Milwaukee, which leads the NL Central by nine games over St. Louis, hasn’t lost back-to-back games since July 23-24 at San Francisco.
The Brewers seem to know what they’re going to get out of Estrada at this point, but the Pirates probably have no idea what to expect from Ross Ohlendorf(notes) (0-0, 7.27) on Tuesday. The right-hander made two starts as the season began but hasn’t pitched in the majors since, going on the disabled list April 9 with a strained right shoulder. He went 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in four rehab starts with Triple-A Indianapolis.
“I’m really excited about it,” Ohlendorf told the Pirates’ official website. “It’s been a long four months. … “Every time I’ve pitched throughout the whole rehab process, I feel like every time I’ve done something a little bit better.”
Ohlendorf is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts versus the Brewers.
He’s had success holding down Milwaukee’s two biggest bats. Ryan Braun(notes) is 1 for 12 with three strikeouts against Ohlendorf and Prince Fielder(notes) is 2 for 10 - though both of his hits were home runs.
Pittsburgh’s best hitter, meanwhile, will be especially happy to see the Brewers leave late Wednesday afternoon. All-Star Andrew McCutchen(notes) is 5 for 51 (.098) with a .393 OPS in his last 15 games versus Milwaukee.