PITTSBURGH (AP)—Brewers manager Ned Yost insisted all spring his offense is much improved, especially with Carlos Lee batting cleanup. Yost has some believers now, many in his own clubhouse.
Lee homered and drove in four runs in his first big game since an offseason trade and Doug Davis pitched effectively over six innings in the Brewers’ second rout of the Pirates in as many games, a 10-2 decision Wednesday.
“So far, so good,” Lee said after Milwaukee outscored Pittsburgh 19-4 in the two-game series. “We’re doing a good job with defense, pitching and we’re getting some key hits, big base hits, and that’s the way we have to play.”
The Brewers dealt popular leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik and reliever Luis Vizcaino to the White Sox for Lee in a deal that wasn’t popular with some Brewers fans, but it probably looks a lot better to them now.
“That’s why we got him, that’s why he’s in middle of lineup,” Davis said. “(As a pitcher), you can’t lay one in there and expect him to get himself out. You take a look at our lineup, and it’s totally different.”
Lee hit a two-run double off Kip Wells (0-1) in a four-run first that had some of the 12,077 fans booing even before Pittsburgh batted, then hit a solo homer leading off the fifth. Lee also had a run-scoring grounder in the sixth against reliever John Grabow.
If the Brewers were looking for a positive start after dropping 94 games during a 12th consecutive losing season in 2004, they got it in one of their least-favorite cities.
They went 6-12 against the Pirates last year and, going into the series, were 11-26 in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened in 2001. They hadn’t won back-to-back there since April 8-9, 2003, a span of 16 games, before following up Monday’s 9-2 victory with an even more one-sided win.
“It’s big to come in here and win a couple of games from those guys,” said Junior Spivey, who had three extra-base hits after striking out four times Monday. “They have good pitchers, a good staff and a young team. It was good to get going against this team.”
The Pirates are 0-2 for the first time since 2000 and now seem as eager to get out of Pittsburgh as they were to get there following seven weeks of spring training. They start a seven-game trip Thursday in San Diego.
“It’s still only two games, and two games at the beginning don’t count any more than two games at the end,” Matt Lawton said. “When it starts to get deeper is when you start to press.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon, who hoped a good start would elevate the confidence of his relatively young team, said, “You always want to play well here. But it’s only two games, it’s not the end of the world.”
Wells, erratic during spring training, constantly left his pitches over the plate as five of the first seven Brewers batters reached base. Spivey doubled and Lyle Overbay walked ahead of Lee’s double in the first, and Russell Branyan followed three batters later with a two-run double. Spivey added a solo homer in the fourth and a double in the sixth.
“To give them a 4-0 lead right out of the gate, I didn’t give us much of a chance,” Wells said.
Wells lasted five innings, giving up six hits and six runs while walking five.
“He wasn’t very good,” McClendon said. “He got his pitches up and it was not a good outing.”
The left-handed hitting Branyan is expected to get the majority of starts at third base, but didn’t start the opener so the right-handed hitting Jeff Cirillo could face Pirates left-hander Oliver Perez. Cirillo responded with a double and homer.
Davis was much more effective than Wells, allowing two hits over five shutout innings ahead of Tike Redman’s two-run homer in the sixth. Davis gave up four hits and two runs and struck out five over six.
Like opening-day starter Ben Sheets, Davis is expected to start three times in the Brewers’ first 10 games because the team has three off-days during the first two weeks of the season.
The game was one of nine Pirates afternoon home games, up from four last season. … Pirates 2B Jose Castillo was lifted with a strained oblique in his left side after batting in the second. … Redman’s homer was only the 15th allowed by Davis in 35 starts over the last two seasons. … Wells made only his second start since Aug. 15. He missed most of the final two months of last season with a sore elbow.