PITTSBURGH (AP) — Christian Yelich keeps pushing to new heights.
Yelich hit two home runs and took over the major league lead with 39, powering the Milwaukee Brewers to a 9-7 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“Just trying to help the team win,” said Yelich, who surpassed his previous career-best homer total with his 37th of the season Sunday. “You’re trying to do well every game, it just happened to work out that way tonight. If I could hit two homers whenever I wanted, that would be pretty sweet.”
The reigning NL MVP capped his performance with a towering shot on a slider from Geoff Hartlieb, crushed 425 feet onto the river walk beyond right field to make the score 9-6 in the ninth. It was Yelich’s sixth career multi-homer game, and his fourth this season.
The night began when Yelich homered in the first inning for a second straight game, driving the first of his four hits 408 feet into the bleachers in left off Dario Agrazal (2-3). He also hit a solo homer in the first inning against the Cubs on Sunday.
“He has the ability to put us on his back offensively,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He’s done it before. He did it for a pretty long stretch last year, and tonight was a night he did it again.”
Brewers starter Jordan Lyles (7-7) limited his former team to three runs (one earned) on two hits in five innings in his first start against the Pirates since being traded on July 29.
Lyles walked two and didn’t allow a hit through the first three innings. Bryan Reynolds led off the fourth with the 10th homer of his rookie season, cutting Milwaukee’s lead to 5-1. Pablo Reyes hit a two-run, pinch-hit homer to left off Lyles in the fifth to make it 5-3.
In his last outing for the Pirates, Lyles allowed eight runs (five earned) on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings of a 14-8 loss to St. Louis on July 24. He was 5-7 with a 5.36 ERA for Pittsburgh this season.
“Just coming up here at the deadline, I wanted to re-group and kind of think of it as the next season, like a different season for me,” Lyles said. “I think it’s a breath of fresh air. … If I do my part personally, I will get things turned around from where I was in the clubhouse over there.”
The Brewers snapped a four-game losing streak after entering as losers of six of the last seven games.
The Pirates are last in the NL Central after falling to 4-19 since the All-Star break.
“Things aren’t going our way right now,” Reynolds said. “It’s tough. It’s baseball. We’re going to keep fighting. We’ll get through it.”
Brewers closer Josh Hader got the final four outs for his 25th save. He struck out two before giving up a two-out double to Reynolds, who had three hits and robbed Mike Moustakas of a home run by leaping above the left-field wall to snag a ball heading for the stands in the second, and a triple to Starling Marte as the Pirates closed to 9-7 in the ninth.
Agrazal lost a third straight start for Pittsburgh, lasting five innings while allowing five runs on eight hits. Four runs came in the fourth, including one on a homer from Moustakas, his 27th, that put the Brewers ahead 2-0.
“I go out there with a plan. I go out there with a mentality to compete, to execute, to attack,” Agrazal said. “Sometimes I look at it like it could be 90, 95 pitches and out of those 90, 95 pitches, two or three just hang. They take advantage of that.”
Brewers: RHP Zach Davies was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Aug. 3 with back spasms. Manager Craig Counsell said he does not think Davies’ recovery will be long-term. … RHP Jake Faria and RHP Devin Williams were recalled from Triple-A San Antonio, and RHP Aaron Wilkerson was optioned to San Antonio.
Pirates: RHP Richard Rodriguez is expected to return Tuesday after being placed on the paternity list Saturday.
Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (5-2, 3.73) will look to allow fewer than three runs in a ninth straight game when he faces Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Pirates: LHP Steven Brault (3-1, 4.15) will pitch for the first time in more than a month when he takes the mound Tuesday. After allowing one run on three hits in four innings against Milwaukee on July 5, Brault was placed on the injured list with a shoulder strain.