McCutchen homers in 12th as Pirates top Brewers
Image by Roy Dabner - Journal Sentinel
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Mike Fiers wouldn't second guess himself on a tough night for the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen.
Andrew McCutchen homered leading off the bottom of the 12th inning to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-3 victory over the Brewers on Tuesday night.
McCutchen hit a 2-2 pitch from Fiers (0-2) into the right-center field stands for his fifth home run of the season and the fourth game-ending shot of his career.
"He hit a good pitch," Fiers said. "It was a fastball down and away. He's a great hitter and that's what great hitters do."
The Brewers took a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning but wasn't able to hold on as they lost to the Pirates for just the second time in their last 12 meetings. Milwaukee had won five straight games at PNC Park.
However, the Pirates scored a run off starter Kyle Lohse in the bottom of the sixth on Clint Barmes' ground out to draw within one run.
John Axford then gave up the tying run in the eighth inning when Neil Walker hit a looping single to left field to lead off the inning and scored on Russell Martin's double into the right-field corner.
Axford lost his job as the closer less than two weeks into the season when he had one blown save and two losses in his first appearances. He still continues to struggle as his ERA is 9.20 through 18 games.
"It's hard to figure out," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Axford's season-long struggles. "We still have confidence in him but it's hard to figure out."
Axford insists he still has his confidence.
"I definitely am frustrated, I can't lie about that," Axford said. "I feel strong. I feel good. That's what I've got to keep building off of.
"Those first four games weren't me. I was a different person. My mechanics were not right. Now, I'm me. My mechanics, my velocity, my movement and my location are all where I want it to be. Now it's a matter of one mistake hurting me."
Ryan Braun had three hits, including a pair of doubles, for the Brewers after sitting out Monday night's win over the Pirates with stiffness in his neck and upper back. He also made a diving catch to rob John McDonald of extra bases leading off the 11th inning.
Norichika Aoki also had three hits for Milwaukee, Carlos Gomez added two hits and Jean Segura hit a home run and drove in two runs.
Pittsburgh's Jose Tabata had three hits, Martin hit two doubles and Walker had two hits.
Vin Mazzaro (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings.
Milwaukee starter Kyle Lohse did not receive a decision after losing his previous three starts. He gave up three runs, five hits and five walks in 5 2-3 innings while striking out three.
The five walks were as many as he had allowed all season coming into the game.
Lohse is 1-4 in eight starts after signing a three-year, $33-million contract late in spring training as a free agent. The Brewers have scored only 15 total runs in his eight starts.
"It wasn't one of my best nights but the key for me when I'm having one of those nights is to avoid mistakes and keep ball out of the middle of the plate," Lohse said. "You're not going to feel great every time out but you've got to battle and leave everything out there. These guys know I'm going to give the best with what I've got."
Jeff Locke, who has won his last three decisions for the Pirates, pitched six innings and allowed three runs on seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
Pittsburgh had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth when Tabata doubled with one out and McCutchen was intentionally walked. However, Alfredo Figardo induced Garrett Jones to ground into an inning-ending double play.
NOTES: Home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth was forced to leave the game in the top of the 11th inning when he was struck in the collarbone by a foul ball off the bat of Milwaukee 1B Yuniesky Betancourt. Second base umpire Bill Welke took over behind the plate. ... Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks returned to the lineup after being limited to pinch-hitting duty Monday as manager Ron Roenicke wanted to give him a mental break. Weeks had started every game this season. ... Martin started for Pittsburgh after missing four consecutive games and six of the last seven because of a stiff neck. The Pirates were the last team in the majors that had not played an extra-inning game this season. ... Yovani Gallardo (3-2, 4.70 ERA) will pitch Wednesday night for Milwaukee against left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (3-2, 3.62).