Ramirez's 350th homer helps Brewers top Pirates

John Perrotto, The Sports Xchange

PITTSBURGH -- Ten years ago and with the franchise in dire financial straits, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded a young slugging third baseman named Aramis Ramirez to the Chicago Cubs in a salary dump.

A decade later, the trade continues to haunt the Pirates.

Ramirez, now with Milwaukee, lifted the Brewers to a 7-6 victory over the Pirates on Tuesday night at PNC Park with three hits, four RBIs and the 350th home run of his 16-year career.

"I was a kid when they traded me and now I'm an old man," Ramirez said with a smile. "It's seems like a lifetime ago."

If that's the case, then it has been two lifetimes since the Pirates last made the postseason, which was in 1992. They are in good shape to finally get back to the playoffs but lost their third straight game and fell 1 1/2 games St. Louis in the National League Central after the Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-1.

Ramirez hit No. 350 in the same city in which he hit his first on July 12, 1998, off Milwaukee's Scott Karl at Three Rivers Stadium. Ramirez was just 19 and Three Rivers was 2 1/2 years away from being imploded.

"I don't remember much about it, honestly," Ramirez said. "It wasn't a big deal for me at the time, but I appreciate getting to 350. It goes to show you that if you play long enough you can put up some numbers."

Caleb Gindl gave the Brewers their third win in four games with a pinch-sacrifice fly in the eighth inning that broke a 6-6 tie. Milwaukee came back to win after blowing a 5-0 lead.

Milwaukee's Norichka Aoki reached base in all five plate appearances with two singles and three walks. Jonathan Lucroy added three hits and Scooter Gennett had two.

"I like what we're doing offensively," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "That was an outstanding offensive performance."

Pedro Alvarez went 4-for-4 with a walk and his NL-leading 32nd home run for the Pirates. Neil Walker had a three-run homer among his two hits. Andrew McCutchen, Andrew Lambo and Felix Pie also had two hits.

With the Pirates down a run, McCutchen doubled and Alvarez walked with one out in the ninth, but Jim Henderson held on for his 22nd save in 25 opportunities.

"We made it harder on ourselves than we needed to," Roenicke said.

Rob Wooten (3-0) allowed Alvarez's homer but pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win.

With the game knotted at 6-all, Rafael Betancourt hit a one-out double for Milwaukee off Bryan Morris (5-7) in the eighth and took third on Gennett's single. Gindl then lifted a fly to right that scored Betancourt and gave the Brewers their third victory in four games.

Both starting pitchers had bad nights.

The Brewers' Kyle Lohse gave up five runs and 13 hits in 5 1/3 innings with two walks and three strikeouts. The Pirates' Jeff Locke was tagged for five runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings while walking four and striking out two.

Lohse had gone 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break.

Meanwhile, Locke's struggles continued as he has allowed 16 runs and 23 hits in 11 1/3 innings in his last three starts. In his last seven outings, he is 0-2 with a 7.02 ERA after beginning the season 9-2 and being selected to the All-Star Game.

"I continue my work during the week like I have all season," Locke said. "Mentally, it becomes kind of a challenge at times. I always try to take the good and move on. I'm 25 years old and I know all the struggles I go through now will make me better down the road."

Alvarez tied the score 6-6 by lining a solo home run off the right-field foul pole, snapping a tie with Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt for the league lead.

Milwaukee had gone ahead by a run in top of the inning when Ramirez lined a two-out RBI double to center that scored Lucroy, who had singled.

Pie had made it 5-5 in the sixth with a run-scoring single.

Milwaukee loaded the bases with none out in the first inning but managed just one run, which came home on Ramirez's double-play grounder.

Ramirez hit a solo home run to deep left center with one out in the fourth, his eighth homer of the season, to make it 2-0.

An inning later, Ramirez capped a three-run fifth by lining a two-run double off the glove of retreating left fielder Jose Tabata with two outs. That came right after Lucroy's RBI single.

Pittsburgh then scored four times in the fourth to cut the deficit to 5-4. Pie's double glanced off Aoki's glove on the warning track and Walker belted a three-run homer, his ninth home run of the season, that carried over the right-field stands.

"It was a weird game, back and forth, back and forth," Walker said.

NOTES: Pirates LF Starling Marte, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 19 with a bruised left hand, will not be able to swing a bat for at least another two weeks, which could put his availability for the rest of the regular season in doubt. ... Pittsburgh 1B Garrett Jones, mired in a 1-for-34 slump, was not in the starting lineup and flied out with the bases loaded as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning ... Milwaukee OF Khris Davis' 11-game hitting streak ended. ... Milwaukee LHP Tom Gorzelanny (3-5, 3.60 ERA) will start Wednesday against Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton (5-3, 3.42).