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Pirates look for first win of season in Milwaukee

Sportsnaut
Jun 30, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher JT Brubaker (34) throws a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The visiting Pittsburgh Pirates will turn to right-hander JT Brubaker as they look to pick up their first victory in Milwaukee this season when they open a three-game weekend series Friday night against the Brewers.

Pittsburgh is coming off a doubleheader split at Cincinnati on Thursday to open a 12-game, 11-day, four-city road trip. Milwaukee was idle Thursday after dropping the final two of a three-game series at home against the Chicago Cubs.

Pittsburgh won the opener against the Reds 4-2 behind Roansy Contreras, who allowed one run in six innings. Cincinnati rallied to win the nightcap 5-1 with four runs in the seventh.

Milwaukee is 8-2 this season vs. the Pirates, including a three-game sweep at home in April. Since 2019, the Brewers are 20-5 at home against Pittsburgh.

Brubaker (2-7, 4.28 ERA) will be opposed by left-hander Aaron Ashby (1-6, 4.60), who lost 7-4 at Pittsburgh in his most recent outing on Saturday — his first start since returning from the injured list with left forearm inflammation. Ashby was tagged for four runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Brubaker is 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA in his past three starts. He is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in six career starts against Milwaukee. He is 1-1 in two starts this season vs. the Brewers, picking up the win in his most recent start on June 30 after giving up four runs in six innings in an 8-7 victory.

“He gave up runs the one inning on a ball that hit the left-field line, a ball that hit the right-field line, but he continued to execute pitches, which is good,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said after that game.

Prior to going on the IL, Ashby was 0-2 with an 8.40 ERA in three starts in June, allowing 14 runs on 23 hits in 15 innings. His only victory came on May 30 against the Cubs. Opponents are batting .257 against him.

Ashby is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three career starts against the Pirates, all on the road. He is 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA in two starts this season vs. Pittsburgh.

In his return from the IL, Ashby gave up a pair of homers in his loss to the Pirates.

“There wasn’t a lot of hard contact,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after that game. “There was probably three balls hit hard. We got a double play on one and then two balls left the park … but he came out healthy, so we’ll move forward.”

On the season, Brewers pitchers have posted a 3.17 ERA vs. the Pirates.

In the series against the Cubs, closer Josh Hader, who leads the majors with 25 saves, twice gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth inning — including Wednesday’s 2-1 loss. The Brewers rallied to bail out Hader and win the opener 5-2 on a three-run walk-off homer in the 10th, but dropped the second game 8-3.

Six of the Brewers nine runs in the series came on three home runs — one in each game. In the series finale, Keston Hiura’s fifth-inning solo homer accounted for Milwaukee’s only run.

“We had 27 outs to try to score, but we put up one run,” Counsell said. “There’s not many days when that’s going to be enough.”

Milwaukee has been shut out eight times this season and is 9-25 when scoring three runs or fewer.

–Field Level Media