As for the Milwaukee Brewers, it’s always nice to see the Pittsburgh Pirates come to town.
Driving the combination of good pitching, just enough offense and a great ninth-inning stint, the Brewers remain undefeated this season against their NL Central counterparts at American Family Field after a 4-3 victory Friday night.
Aaron Ashby won for only the second time of the year after getting off to a strong start in five innings, and four different players made runs as Milwaukee took their record to 4-0 against Pittsburgh on home turf in 2022 .
The score of the box:Brewers 4, Pirates 3
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Willy Adames also homered, tying Rowdy Tellez for the team lead with his 17th.
And it was Adames who featured in the game’s central play – the one that saved the Brewers and closed in on Josh Hader in the ninth.
The Pirates had runners at first and third with two out when former brewer Daniel Vogelbach singled into the spread to right center.
The third runner, Diego Castillo, scored easily. First-placed Kevin Newman rounded third and never slowed down after Andrew McCutchen hit Adames with the throw-in from the right.
Adames responded with a perfect pitch to Victor Caratini, and Newman was out a mile to end the game.
“He really caught me off guard,” he said of Newman. “Obviously I thought he wouldn’t go. When I turned around and saw him running, I just threw the ball. It was like, ‘What’s going on? Where is he going?’
“Especially with the top of the roster coming up. I don’t know what the thought process was behind that play.”
The Brewers will obviously take it, especially after losing two of three to the Chicago Cubs to start their final homestand of the first half.
“Your natural clock as an infielder tells you there will be no play,” manager Craig Counsell said. “So you turn around and watch. That’s what he did. Then obviously you have to get ready to throw him, and he had a perfect throw.”
Hader, meanwhile, allowed points in three consecutive appearances – uncharted territory for him given his status as arguably the closest to the game. The stint allowed him to record his 26th save at the top of the major leagues.
“Look, Josh picks us up so many days and 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 get him back.
“So we played good defensive play late in the game to get him back. That’s what we should be doing. Josh, there’s nobody we’d rather have there. I think all the teams would say the same thing.”
The Brewers are now 9-2 against the Pirates this season.
Ashby’s departure was his second since returning to the injured list on July 2 as well as his second against the Pirates.
His comeback was far from triumphant in Pittsburgh, where he was scored for five hits — including a pair of home runs — four runs and a walk with six strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.
This time he was allowed to throw another 10 shots (72 in all) and only made one error, an 0-2 slider that was actually down and out of the strike zone that Diego Castillo slapped. nevertheless was able to activate and chase to left center to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
Ashby (2-6). whose two walks have come in his last six batters, capped off his appearance with a terrific snag of a 95.9 mph shot directly on him by Bryan Reynolds.
He allowed three hits and both runs while striking out three.
“I think he threw the ball really well,” Counsell said. “The home run, even, wasn’t a bad pitch. It’s a ball out of bounds. The first three innings were about as good as you’re going to see. He went five innings.
“So another step forward for him today and very encouraging.”
The Brewers took the lead in the second against JT Brubaker on a single with a goal-laden out by Keston Hiura.
They then came back on top for good in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a triple RBI from Kolten Wong and a bases-loaded single by Jace Peterson, who grounded himself in a late-inning double play with the bases loaded in the second.
After Hoby Milner threw a 1-2-3 seventh, Adames led the bottom of the frame homerizing left. It was his first home run since hitting a Grand Slam in Pittsburgh on July 1.
“I was just happy to have homered today and had a good swing on a fly ball,” Adames said. “It was a bit weird because it had been a minute. It was great to get the cannon on the ball. Hope that gets me excited.”
Devin Williams worked around a pair of base runners in the eighth, recording his 22nd MLB lead and 23rd consecutive scoreless appearance, before Hader’s high-wire act in the ninth.