Polanco (4-for-4) carries Pirates past Brewers
PITTSBURGH -- Multiple-hit nights must have seemed like a fantasy for Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco a few weeks ago.
In seven games from June 23-30, Polanco had two hits in 24 at-bats. Then he had three hits on July 1, one hit in each of his next four games and four on July 6.
Polanco continued that trend Monday when his two doubles propelled the Pirates to a 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park.
Polanco gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning with his second double, which drove in Josh Bell from second. He finished 4-for-4 with two RBIs.
”It was exciting,“ Polanco said. ”You get very excited when you get an extra base and a hustle double like that. You get very excited and you know when the game is on the line like that, you get an extra base and it’s important.
“I feel pretty comfortable. I feel pretty good because I‘m healthy now. I feel strong. I feel my hands are quick, so I can see the ball.”
The Pirates (45-48) have won eight of their past 10 games. The National League Central-leading Brewers (52-43) have lost two straight after winning their previous three.
Max Moroff singled home Polanco in the eighth to extend Pittsburgh’s lead to 4-2.
Pirates starter Chad Kuhl had a career-high seven strikeouts across 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball. He allowed four hits and three walks. Reliever Daniel Hudson (2-4) got the win after recording the last out in the sixth. Left-hander Felipe Rivero got four outs for his seventh save of the season.
Milwaukee’s Josh Hader (1-1) was the loser after allowing a run on two hits in one inning.
The Brewers took a 2-0 lead into the fifth before Polanco helped the Pirates score two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Polanco doubled to the left-center-field gap, allowing Jose Osuna to score from first before Polanco advanced to third on a throw from shortstop Orlando Arcia that sailed over catcher Stephen Vogt. Jordy Mercer drove in Polanco with a sacrifice fly to tie it 2-2.
“It’s been fun watching (Polanco) roll into July,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “There’s a different look in his eye. There are parts of his game that took over tonight. ... He’s been doing it since the month of July has rolled around.”
Pittsburgh could have taken the lead when Francisco Cervelli singled later in the fifth, but right fielder Domingo Santana gunned down Kuhl at home for the out.
Kuhl collided with Vogt, who left the game with a left knee strain and a neck strain. Manny Pina replaced Vogt behind the plate.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said Vogt is day-to-day.
Brewers starter Brent Suter left the game after Cervelli’s single. He allowed two runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
“It was a night where the defense absolutely picked me up personally and picked the game up,” Suter said. “I‘m going to chalk up this one to a bad performance by me, but a great job by the team picking us up and keeping us in the ballgame.”
Arcia gave Milwaukee a 1-0 lead in the second inning by driving in Travis Shaw with a single to center.
Shaw scored again in fourth inning after he doubled to right, tagged and advanced to third on a flyout, and scored on a groundout by Vogt to make it 2-0.
The Brewers let that strong start slip away, though.
”We had plenty of opportunities,“ Counsell said. ”It was a pretty good game. Both teams had runners on base it felt like most of the second half of the game, and it was tough getting runs in.
“Both pitchers, both sides pitched out of some jams. ... We got some rallies going and bases loaded a couple times. That last hit wasn’t there.”
NOTES: Pirates OF Starling Marte will be eligible to return Tuesday from his 80-game suspension stemming from testing positive for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Marte, who is expected to play left field when he returns, took batting practice Monday. ... Pittsburgh C Francisco Cervelli finished 2-for-5. ... 1B Eric Thames, 3B Travis Shaw and SS Orlando Arcia had two hits apiece for Milwaukee.