Brewers 10, Pirates 3
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Damian Miller’s T-shirt under his Milwaukee Brewers jersey reads “Hitting Is Simple,” which is Tony Gwynn’s philosophy at the plate. Not even Gwynn, the soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee, had many nights like this.
Miller, a backup catcher, homered twice during a four-hit night, including a grand slam in a seven-run seventh inning, and his seven RBIs matched a club record in a 10-3 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.
Miller went 4-for-5 while playing for the first time since his three-run, game-ending homer in the 11th inning beat Houston on Wednesday—his first homer this season. Miller has three homers and 11 RBIs in two games after previously having no homers and six RBIs all season.
“There’s no explanation for it,” Miller said. “I got good pitches to hit.”
Doesn’t get much simpler than that.
“Tony Gwynn, I’m not quite to that level,” Miller said.
This time, he was.
The Pirates should have known better than to pitch to him, given their recent problems pitching to backup catchers. They lost 3-2 to Washington on Sunday, costing them a three-game sweep, when little-used catcher Jesus Flores hit a decisive two-run homer in the sixth.
Miller initially wasn’t supposed to play Monday—starter Johnny Estrada was scheduled to take Sunday off, but he stayed in the lineup because manager Ned Yost felt he matched up better against the Cubs’ Jason Marquis. That meant Miller started in Pittsburgh, where the Brewers had dropped 37 of 55 since PNC Park opened in 2001.
“I forgot what it was like. They’ve got good lights in the big leagues,” said Miller, who normally plays only in day games that follow night games.
Miller’s two-run shot off rookie John Van Benschoten made it 3-1 in the fourth and was one of only three hits off the right-hander in six innings, but the Brewers had a lot more by the time the seventh inning ended. Masumi Kuwata (0-1), the Pirates’ 39-year-old major league rookie, watched his ERA climb from 2.53 to 7.94 as he yielded five hits and seven runs in two-thirds of an inning.
Corey Hart doubled and scored on J.J. Hardy’s go-ahead single, and Bill Hall added an RBI double around intentional walks to Prince Fielder and Geoff Jenkins. After Pirates manager Jim Tracy went to the mound to talk with Kuwata, Miller hit a curveball into the left-center seats for the Brewers’ sixth grand slam this season. They didn’t have any a season ago.
“What did he have, one homer and 10 RBIs?” Tracy said of Miller. “You’re not going to let Prince Fielder or Geoff Jenkins beat you there.”
Kuwata, a long time Japanese star, is admittedly at the end of his career— his fastball doesn’t come close to reaching 90 mph. After four consecutive disappointing seasons back home for the Yomiuri Giants, he is realizing a career-long goal by pitching in the majors. Only he didn’t want to pitch this way, especially after pitching effectively in most of his first nine appearances.
“I’m really disappointed with myself,” he said, blaming his curveball. “Tonight, I couldn’t control it. It’s the seventh inning, the score is tied, I have to keep the ball down.”
Tracy, his team 12 games under .500 one game past the midpoint of the season, heard numerous boos as he went to the mound to replace Kuwata with John Wasdin.
Nate McLouth doubled twice and scored both times against Brewers starter Jeff Suppan, who left after throwing 106 pitches in five innings. Carlos Villaneuva (6-0) pitched four shutout innings for the victory, working with a seven-run lead the final three innings.
“If I can save the rest of the guys in the bullpen, I’ll do my best,” he said.
Also driving in seven runs for the Brewers were Ted Kubiak (1970), Jose Hernandez (2001) and Richie Sexson (2002). … The grand slam was the sixth of Miller’s career. His four-hit game tied a career high, set three times previously. … Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., threw out the first pitch. He was given a Pirates No. 2 jersey and watched the game from the grandstands. … Despite excellent weather, the Pirates drew only 33,600 for their last two home games— 14,451 on Monday. The small crowds followed an organized fan protest against ownership during the club’s 15th consecutive losing season. … The Pirates’ slumping Jason Bay hit sixth for the first time this season and went 0-for-4 to drop his average to .259, down from .314 on June 1.