Brewers post 21st straight home win over Pirates

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—No matter the season, the Milwaukee Brewers keep beating the Pittsburgh Pirates at home.

Shortstop Craig Counsell(notes) helped Milwaukee turn a season-high four double plays and drove in two runs as the Brewers beat the Pirates for the 21st straight time at home, 4-1 Sunday.

The Brewers’ streak is the longest such string in the majors since the Indians beat the Baltimore franchise 27 times in a row at Cleveland Municipal Stadium from 1952-54.

“That’s obviously a horrible stat,” said Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche(notes), a minor leaguer for the Dodgers when Pittsburgh last won in Milwaukee on May 3, 2007. “I knew it was a lot, I didn’t know how many it was. We still go out there and try to win no matter who we’re playing.”

Milwaukee has dominated Pittsburgh recently, going 33-12 no matter where the teams meet in the last three seasons.

The streak has been one of the lone bright spots in Milwaukee’s disappointing summer after the Brewers had high hopes to return to the postseason.

Milwaukee entered July with a two-game lead in the NL Central, but just finished 10-12 in a 22-game stretch against opponents with sub-.500 records while St. Louis opened up a huge lead in the division.

“When you’re 12 games out, every game is like hanging on the cliff,” Counsell said.

Now, they’ll play the Cardinals nine more times—including six times in the next nine days starting Tuesday—and face the Cubs six times down the stretch. The Brewers also have series with San Francisco and Colorado in September.

“The Cardinals are next, it doesn’t seem like they ever lose,” Counsell said. “Their starting pitching is phenomenal. You look at the guys you’re going to face and you’ve got your work cut out for you.”

Jeff Suppan(notes) (6-8) earned his first win since June 12 with six solid innings on his bobblehead day and drew a go-ahead walk in the fifth after the Pirates issued an intentional walk to load the bases. He’d been 0-4 with a 6.70 ERA in his last nine starts and spent nearly a month on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle.

Suppan allowed eight hits and three walks, and Counsell was the key reason why Suppan got 13 ground-ball outs. The veteran duo also helped out at the plate after Casey McGehee(notes) homered in the second for Milwaukee.

With the score 1-all, McGehee led off the fifth with a single against Ross Ohlendorf(notes) (11-9) and Jason Kendall(notes) doubled.

Ohlendorf intentionally walked Frank Catalanotto(notes) to bring up Suppan, who laid off a close 2-2 pitch before taking ball four that walked in McGehee. Ohlendorf was still struggling with Suppan’s at-bat after the game.

“It was the walk to the pitcher that really hurt us,” he said. “He was the one who made a big difference in the game. That was what I was really upset about.”

Suppan was coy when asked if he was told to take the whole way during his at-bat.

“I was just looking for a good pitch, I was ready to swing,” Suppan said.

Well, what about the second strike down the middle? Or the close pitch at 2-2?

“You don’t have to swing at them all,” Suppan joked. “I was going to make sure I had a pitch to hit. Fortunately, I had a good eye and he walked me.”

After Felipe Lopez(notes) struck out, Counsell singled just over LaRoche to drive in two more runs to give Milwaukee a 4-1 lead.

Garrett Jones(notes) homered in the third, giving the Pirates at least one home run in a season-high six straight games. But Pittsburgh squandered ample opportunities against Suppan.

In the second, Suppan intentionally walked Ronny Cedeno(notes) to load the bases with one out and bring up Ohlendorf, who came in with a .052 career average. Ohlendorf fought off several pitches, but bounced to Counsell, who stepped on second base and threw him out easily at first.

Counsell made a diving grab that limited Ohlendorf to an infield single in the fourth and saved a run, and also was part of double plays in the first, fifth and sixth innings.

“A tremendous day for Counsell,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “Today was his game.”

NOTES: Trevor Hoffman(notes) worked around a leadoff double by Brandon Moss(notes) in the ninth for his 29th save this season. … The Brewers turned five double plays on June 22, 2008 against Baltimore. … The Pirates last hit into four double plays on June 5, 2007, against Washington. … Pirates RHP Daniel McCutchen(notes) will make his major league debut in the first game of a doubleheader in Cincinnati on Monday.

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