It’s always nice for the Milwaukee Brewers to see the Pittsburgh Pirates in town.
With the combination of strong pitching, just enough offense and a great ninth-inning relay, the Brewers remain undefeated this season after a 4-3 win Friday night over their NL Central counterparts at American Family Field.
Aaron Ashby won for the second time this year after making a solid five-inning start, and four different players drove in runs as Milwaukee matched their record 4-0 win over Pittsburgh on their home turf in 2022.
Box Score:Brewers 4, Pirates 3
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Willy Adames also hit a homer, tying Rowdy Tellez with his 17th for the team lead.
And it was Adames who broke into the deciding game of the game – one that saved the Brewers and closer Josh Hader in game ninth.
The Pirates had runners in first and third place with two outs when former brewer Daniel Vogelbach sent a single into the gap at right-center.
The runner-up, Diego Castillo, scored easily. Kevin Newman, in first place, rounded third and never slowed after Andrew McCutchen hit Adames with the relay shot from the right.
Adames responded by throwing a perfect home throw from Victor Caratini and Newman was a mile away to end the game.
“He really caught me off guard,” he said of Newman. “Obviously I didn’t think he was going. When I turned around and saw him running, I just threw the ball. It was like, ‘What’s up? Where is he going?’
“Especially with the upcoming top of the lineup. I don’t know what the thought process was behind this game.”
The Brewers will obviously take it, especially after losing two of three to the Chicago Cubs, to start their last first-half homestand.
“Your natural clock as a midfielder tells you there will be no game,” said manager Craig Counsell. “So you turn around and look. He did. Then of course you have to prepare to throw it and he made a perfect throw.”
Meanwhile, Hader has allowed runs in three consecutive appearances – uncharted territory for him given his status as arguably the game’s best closer. The relay allowed him to record his major league-leading 26th save as a result.
“See, Josh picks us up for so many days and has had such a great season,” Counsell said. “He had a little stretch where he gave up a few runs and it’s our job to pick him up.
“So at the end of the game we made a nice defensive play to pick him up. We should do that. Josh, there’s nobody we’d rather have back there. I think every team would say the same thing.”
The Brewers are now 9-2 against the Pirates this season.
Ashby’s start was his second since being reinstated off the injured list on July 2, as well as his second against the Pirates.
His return was far from triumphant in Pittsburgh, where he was marked for five hits – including two homers – four runs and a walk with six strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings.
This time he was allowed to throw 10 more pitches (72 in total) and made just one mistake, a 0-2 pusher that was actually down and outside the strike zone, which Diego Castillo was able to still steer and drive wide left-center, to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
Ashby (2-6). whose two walks came in his last six batters capped his performance with a terrific hook from a 95.9-mile shot that was fired right back at him by Bryan Reynolds.
He allowed three hits and the two runs while striking three.
“I thought he threw the ball really well,” Counsell said. “Even the home run wasn’t a bad pitch. It’s an out-of-zone ball. The first three innings was about as good as you’ll see him. He lasted five innings.
“So, another step forward for him today and very encouraging.”
The Brewers took the lead against JT Brubaker in the second game with a lone, base-loaded single from Keston Hiura.
They finally regained their lead at the end of the fourth thanks to an RBI triple from Kolten Wong and a bases-loaded single from Jace Peterson, who went into the second in an inning-ending double play with bases-loaded.
After Hoby Milner threw a 1-2-3 seventh, Adames led off the bottom of the frame with a home ring to the left. It was his first homer since hitting a grand slam in Pittsburgh on July 1.
“I was just happy that I hit a homer today and made a good shot at a ball,” Adames said. “It felt a little strange because it had been a minute. Putting the run on the ball was great. I hope that gets hot for me.”
Devin Williams worked around a pair of baserunners in the eighth game and recorded his MLB-leading 22nd hold and 23rd straight scoreless appearance before Hader performed in the ninth high-wire act.