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Four homers power Pirates past Brewers

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- Hits were relatively scarce for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but they made the most of what they got, hitting four home runs in a 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.

Pedro Alvarez had two and Andrew McCutchen and Neil Wilson each homered for the Pirates, who have hit 12 in five games this season at Miller Park.

Three of the home runs came against Milwaukee starter Mike Fiers, who returned to the starting rotation for the first time since April 7.

McCutchen struck first, hitting a solo shot with two outs in the first inning.

In the second, Walker reached on a one-out base hit and Alvarez made it 3-0 with a home run down the right field line.

In the fourth, Walker put Pittsburgh ahead 4-0 with a one-out shot to center.

All three home runs came off misplaced fastballs with Fiers behind in the count.

"When I fell behind, they made me pay," Fiers said. "I have to be better (in those situations). I can't give in."

Milwaukee's offense sputtered against left-hander Jeff Locke, stranding a runner at second in each of the first two innings. After putting two on with one out in the second, Locke retired 12 of his next 14 batters and ended the sixth with a double play by Jonathan Lucroy.

"Very impressive," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The pitch that really made the difference for him was the fastball inside for strikes.

"He's getting better. The confidence is there."

Locke (5-1) scattered three hits, walked three and struck out a season-high seven in six scoreless innings to win his fifth of the season. He lowered his ERA to 2.45, moving him into the top 10 in the National League and helping the Pirates win two of their last three at Miller Park, where they are 9-47 since 2007.

"It's nice to come here and win a game," Locke said. "We've struggled here -- everybody's told me that even though I've only pitched here once before."

Carlos Gomez put the Brewers on the board in the seventh, leading off the inning with a home run off reliever Justin Wilson. Gomez hit another homer with two outs in the ninth to cap a 2-for-3 day with a walk.

Despite having five regulars in the starting lineup batting above .300 -- and a team average that was fourth in the league starting the day, Milwaukee has averaged just 2.3 runs in its last six games and is 2-4 during that stretch.

"I know we're missing Corey Hart, but that's still a good offense we're putting out there," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "When I write it down every day and look at it and some of the numbers we're putting up, I expect us to score runs.

"It's puzzling, but we're better than what we're showing offensively."

Fiers' short start left another big task for Milwaukee's bullpen, which covered the final five innings and allowed one run -- Alvarez's second homer -- and four hits. In the last 18 games, Brewers relievers have combined to post a 1.88 ERA while holding opponents to a .205 batting average.

NOTES: Brewers closer Jim Henderson was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday after suffering a strained hamstring on Friday night in Milwaukee's 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh. A roster move will be announced Sunday. said "it might be awhile" before Henderson returns. If Henderson goes on the disabled list, Roenicke said he likely would use a "closer by committee" approach in the ninth inning. ... McCutchen has homered twice off Fiers this season. In 10 career at-bats against the Brewers' right-hander, McCutchen has four home runs. ... Brewers RHP Burke Badenhop worked two scoreless innings and has not allowed an earned run in his last 12 appearances. ... Pittsburgh hasn't lost consecutive games since falling to Seattle and the New York Mets on May 8-9. The Pirates are 12-3 during that stretch. ... Gomez's two home runs marked the first multi-homer game of his career.
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