Pirates 5, Brewers 3
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Just when Kris Benson could be on his way out of Pittsburgh after six mostly disappointing seasons, the Pirates finally look like a team that’s figured out how to win.
Jason Bay, coming off an eight-RBI performance in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader, added an RBI single to help the Pirates win their ninth in 11 games since they dropped 19 of 22. The winning streak is their longest since an eight-game run Sept. 1-8, 2000, during Gene Lamont’s final month as manager.
Bay has 10 RBIs in the first three games of the four-game series that wraps up Sunday.
“We’re just trying to keep it up and keep the momentum going as long as we can,” Simon said. “We know we can beat anybody. We’re putting offense, defense and pitching together and everything is just fine.”
Benson (6-7) pitched seven innings to win for only the second time in seven starts. Benson’s contract is up after this season and, with the Pirates not looking to re-sign him, likely will be traded this month.
“I know people are up there and certain teams are watching me, and maybe I think about that two hours before a game,” Benson said. “But when it’s two minutes before the game, I’m thinking only about getting the Brewers’ hitters out and making my pitches.”
Benson was constantly in trouble while allowing eight hits, including multiple hits in three innings, but the Brewers were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position against him while losing their third straight.
“He had a good fastball but didn’t have his other stuff, but he still competed,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I was proud of that and I told him so.”
“He gave me a high five,” said McClendon, whose team has had an eight-game winning streak and a nine-game losing streak in less than a month.
Lyle Overbay drove in two runs, giving him a team-high 61 RBIs, but Milwaukee lost its third in a row since winning five straight. The Brewers have dropped 2 1/2 games in the NL Central standings in two days since closing to within 3 1/2 games of St. Louis on Thursday.
Manager Ned Yost held a brief meeting after the game, mostly to tell his team to keep playing the way it is.
“You kind of make your own luck and, right now, we’re not making it,” he said. “It seems like everything they hit right now finds a hole, but that thing turns around.”
Milwaukee took a 2-1 lead into the Pirates’ sixth but Wes Obermueller (3-4) couldn’t retire any of the four batters he faced in the inning. Jack Wilson doubled and scored on Rob Mackowiak’s single before Obermueller hit Craig Wilson with a pitch and Bay walked, loading the bases.
Simon, who hit only .164 in June, bounced a single over the infield against reliever Dave Burba to make it 4-2. Burba, pitching again despite going three innings in Friday’s second game, then stranded runners on second and third by getting the next three hitters.
“Simon swings at a pitch in his eyes and hits it down the third base line,” Yost said. “Simon’s about as good a bad-ball hitter as there is, but it was a pitch you wouldn’t think anybody could hit, but he did.”
Simon said, “You could see they were playing me over. I’ve just got to put the ball in play.”
Craig Wilson homered in the fourth, his 16th of the season and his first since June 15. The Pirates added a run in the seventh against Jon Adams on Bay’s infield single, their third hit of the inning.
Obermueller gave up four runs and six hits in five-plus innings and is 0-3in his last five starts, lasting an average of five innings.
Benson has a 41-48 career record. … The Brewers are 10-24 in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened in 2001. … Overbay and Craig Counsell each had three of Milwaukee’s 13 hits. … Pittsburgh has outscored Milwaukee 26-6 in the series. … Bay and Red Sox INF Nomar Garciaparra are the only active players with two games of at least eight RBIs apiece. Bay also drove in eightruns Sept. 19 against the Cubs.