Pirates 4, Brewers 2

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Pete Mackanin pushed the right buttons in his manager-for-a-day role, even if they probably were the same buttons Lloyd McClendon would have pushed.

Daryle Ward homered and drove in two runs, and Dave Williams repeatedly pitched out of trouble to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 Sunday, the Pirates’ ninth victory in 12 games.

With McClendon attending daughter Schenell’s graduation from Valparaiso University—he planned to listen to the game via satellite radio—Mackanin used four relievers after squeezing out 5 1-3 trouble-filled innings from Williams.

The Brewers outhit the Pirates 12-6 but, much to Mackanin’s relief, stranded 10 runners and committed three errors.

“I’m nervous before every game, because I’m worried Mac will start yelling at me if we don’t win,” said Mackanin, a former major league infielder who has 13 seasons of minor league managing experience. “Today, I was nervous for a different reason.”

Mostly, he didn’t want McClendon screaming once the boss returned from his day off.

Ward made sure that didn’t happen, homering in the second and adding a run-scoring single that made it 4-2 in the fifth after Matt Lawton’s leadoff double against Gary Glover (2-2).

Ward’s eighth homer came immediately after Glover was out at the plate on shortstop Jack Wilson’s relay throw following Brady Clark’s two-out double. Glover had just singled for his first career hit and RBI.

“I was gassed,” Glover said. “I don’t think I can remember the last time I tried to go from first to home. I was kind of shocked I was being sent—I was thinking coming around second that I was going to have a hard time making it to third.”

It was only the second inning, but Mackanin considered it a turning point because the Brewers scored only once despite having five hits—three for extra bases—in the first two innings.

“That turned out to be a really big play,” Mackanin said. “That stopped some momentum.”

Brewers manager Ned Yost was bothered more by the first inning, when Williams struck out Geoff Jenkins, Carlos Lee and Lyle Overbay in succession after Clark singled and Junior Spivey doubled.

“Our clutch hitting was basically nonexistent,” Yost said after the Brewers went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. “You’re not going to win many games doing that. You’ve got your No. 3-4-5 hitters up, it’s a perfect situation, and you don’t score.”

The Pirates played their infield back, so even a ground ball by Jenkins or Lee would have scored a run.

“You’ve got it set up to score two runs without the benefit of the hit if you put the ball in play,” Yost said.

That summed up the weekend for the Brewers, who took the series opener 4-3 Friday night for their 11th victory in 14 games, only to be held to two runs in the final two games by Pittsburgh starters Mark Redman and Williams.

“I was fortunate,” said Williams, who gave up nine hits but stranded six runners in the first four innings.

Williams (4-3), who beat out three candidates to be the Pirates’ No. 5 starter, withstood Geoff Jenkins’ solo homer to win his third straight start after dropping three in a row.

“He’s doing much better than you would have hoped,” Mackanin said.

Jose Mesa, who gave up the decisive run Friday in a non-save situation, pitched the ninth for his 13th save in as many opportunities and his 23rd in a row since last season. Mesa, Salomon Torres, John Grabow and Rick White combined for 3 2-3 scoreless relief innings.

Ward also singled leading off a two-run fourth inning that made it 3-1 and included Tike Redman’s run-scoring single and David Ross’ sacrifice fly. Redman’s RBI was only his second in 10 games.

Ward went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .292 and, with eight homers and 19 RBIs in 106 at-bats, is off to his second strong start in as many seasons. He had seven homers and 19 RBIs in 19 games last season, then was out for nearly two months with an injured right thumb before finishing with 15 homers and 57 RBIs.

Notes

The Pirates have won their last four series after starting the season with a 6-12 record. … Pirates starting pitchers have a 2.28 ERA in their last seven starts, including Redman’s complete-game 2-0 victory Saturday. … Even with the consecutive victories, the Pirates are 5-10 at home. … Milwaukee is 14-28 in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened in 2001. … Williams is 4-1 in five career starts against Milwaukee. … Milwaukee had won Glover’s previous four starts.

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