Brewers: Blasts back Jimmy Nelson after rough 1st


The first inning has been Jimmy Nelson’s Achilles heel for much of the season and on Saturday night at Miller Park, Nelson had help making a mess of things to open the game on a strange Negro Leagues Tribute Night.

It was the 10th annual tribute to the Negro Leagues for the Milwaukee Brewers, who donned the uniforms of the 1923 Milwaukee Bears while the Pirates were dressed as the Pittsburgh Crawfords, who played in the old Negro Leagues from 1931-38.

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Former players Gilbert Hernandez Black and James Beckum were honored before the game.

Nelson surrendered back-to-back singles to Gregory Polanco and Neil Walker to open the game, with Polanco scoring when center fielder Carlos Gomez couldn’t come up with the ball cleanly.

Walker scored on a wild pitch by Nelson, who walked Andrew McCutchen, gave up a single to Starling Marte and an infield single to Jung Ho Kang that resulted in another run scoring when shortstop Jean Segura threw wildly.

Nelson hit Pedro Alvarez with a pitch—loading the bases and making it six straight Pirates to reach base.

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Francisco Cervelli flied out to right and Ryan Braun gunned down Marte at the plate for the double play, giving the Brewers (40-52) some life. Nelson struck out Jordy Mercer to end the inning.

The Brewers cracked the scoreboard against emergency starter Vance Worley (3-5) in the second. Worley got the late nod after Francisco Liriano was scratched because of a stiff neck.

Aramis Ramirez and Scooter Gennett—a late addition to the lineup with the switch from a lefty to a righty—led off with back-to-back singles. Ramirez took third on a passed ball and Gennett moved up to second on a groundout.

Nelson then singled to right field to drive in both runners—his first big-league RBIs.

“Trying out anything when you feel like you’re 0-for-50 or whatever,” Nelson told of a new batting stance he unveiled Saturday. “As a pitcher, when you’re hitting you’re just trying to make contact really.”

Milwaukee tied it in the third. Braun reached on an error by Mercer at shortstop, went to second on a groundout and, after Ramirez got plunked by a pitch, Gennett singled up the middle to send Braun around to score.

As it turns out, the Brewers were just getting started, as they would score in seven consecutive innings.

They got their first lead in the fifth. Gerardo Parra worked a two-out walk and Jonathan Lucroy followed with a homer to left field, his third of the season, to put Milwaukee up 5-3.

Ramirez got in on the long-ball game in the fifth off reliever Deolis Guerra, hitting his 11th homer of the season to left-center field.

In the sixth, Braun walked with two outs and stole second, moving to third on Cervelli’s wild throw. After Gomez walked, Ramirez singled to right to put the Brewers up 7-3.

Pittsburgh (53-37) got to Nelson (7-9) in the seventh. Polanco led off with a double and Jeremy Jeffress came on after Nelson struck out Walker.

Jeffress gave up a walk to McCutchen and Marte doubled to left to cut the Brewer lead to 7-4. Travis Ishikawa drove in a run with a groundout to make it a 7-5 game.

Khris Davis, who was scratched from the lineup when Pittsburgh switched starters, batted for Jeffress in the bottom of the seventh and crushed a deep homer to center field, his seventh of the year, off left-hander Antonio Bastardo to make it an 8-5 game.

Nelson wound up surrendering four runs on seven hits with three walks and eight strikeouts in 6.1 innings, but pitched very well after the first.

“I feel like I’m a broken record with the runs in the first,” Nelson said. “I just try to keep a level head about it and give us a chance. It’s just a main theme I’ve been learning this year. Don’t lose your mind after the first inning or first couple, because there’s a lot of game left.”

Manager Craig Counsell liked what he saw.

“To me, it’s as good a start as Nelson has had,” Counsell said. “Just to come back after that and shut it down. We talk about, as pitchers, to give your team a chance to win. He did that [Saturday night].”

Jeffress was charged with a run in his two-thirds of an inning. Jonathan Broxton worked a perfect eighth and Francisco Rodriguez got his 26th straight save—including 21 in a row this season—with a 1-2-3 ninth.

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  • Ramirez was 3-for-3 on the night, while Gennett went 3-for-5 to fuel Milwaukee’s 13-hit attack.

    Taylor Jungmann (4-1, 2.15 ERA) gets the ball for the Brewers Sunday at 1:10 p.m. as Milwaukee tries to get its first home-field sweep of the season. Left-hander Jeff Locke (5-5, 4.03) is scheduled to go for Pittsburgh.

    This will be Jungmann’s second look at the Pirates after he held them to a run on three hits in seven innings in his big-league debut at PNC Park on June 9. In his last start, Jungmann threw his first career complete game in a 4-1 win at Los Angeles on July 11.

    Locke is 4-2 with a 3.46 ERA in nine career starts against the Brewers, posting a 1.098 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 54.2 innings. That includes a 2-0 mark this year, with wins on April 10 and April 18, allowing three runs in 14 innings.

    Locke took the loss in his last outing, giving up four runs—one earned—on five hits in five innings of a 4-1 loss to the Cardinals on July 9.

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