MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brewers ace Corbin Burnes has made things easy for his teammates this season, shutting down opponents and working deep into games.
When he failed to do either of those things Saturday, Milwaukee paid him back with a dominant bullpen effort and a five-run outburst in the fourth innin gto key a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“We kind of owed him one of those,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Burnes allowed three runs in the first inning, got himself under control but then loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. Trevor Richards (1-0) relieved and struck out three straight to end the threat and preserve a three-run lead.
“That’s obviously the best inning we’ve seen him have,” Counsell said of Richards.
Christian Yelich delivered the biggest hit of the day, doubling to left-center with the bases loaded and one out in the pivotal fifth. It was one of two hits for Yelich, who recorded his first multihit game since May 24 and sixth of the season.
“I was just trying not to really roll something over,” Yelich said. “Make sure that if you’re going to go early there, swing at a pitch early in the count, make sure that you’re being smart with it.”
Pittsburgh right-hander Chad Kuhl (0-4) gave up six runs, five earned, with five hits and four walks over 3 1/3 innings. He struck out two while losing to Milwaukee for the first time in 10 career appearances (nine starts).
“I’ve been struggling,” Kuhl said. “It’s frustrating from a personal standpoint, not being about to go out there and be the guy people expect you to be.”
The Pirates had 10 hits, including three from second baseman Adam Fraizer, but went 2 for 16 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.
“We had some situations to score runs against the back end of the bullpen,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “We have to be better and find a way to put the ball into play.”
Pittsburgh got an early jump on Burnes, who gave up four runs, two earned, with eight hits and three walks while striking out eight over four innings.
The normally locked-in Burnes found himself in a 2-0 hole just 19 pitches into the game. Fraizer and Phillip Evans opened with back-to-back singles and scored when Burnes made a bad throw on a comebacker by Bryan Reynolds.
Reynolds scored when Jacob Stallings bounced into a double play for the first two outs of the inning, and the Pirates added another when Erik Gonzalez and Ka’ai Tom opened the second with consecutive triples.
Burnes retired seven of his next 10 batters, striking out five, before struggling in the fifth.
“When you’re giving up bloop hits and two triples that weren’t hit over 70 mph, it’s kind of tough to get upset about it,” Burnes said. “You just shake your head. That’s baseball.”
Milwaukee has won three straight and 13 of 15. It sits a half-game ahead of the Cubs in the NL Central while the Pirates dropped their sixth in a row and ninth in 12 games.
SHAW READY TO REHAB
Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw will take a few more days to let the pain in his dislocated left shoulder subside before starting a rehab plan that he hopes will have him back on the field before the end of the season.
KELLER RETURNS TO THE MINORS
The Pirates optioned struggling stratng pitcher Mitch Keller to Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday, hoping the right-hander can rediscover the form that made him the organization’s top prospect.
Keller, 25, has allowed six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings over his last two starts and is 1-4 with a 7.83 ERA over his last six outings.
“Mitch Keller is going to be a good major league pitcher,” Shelton said.
Keller is 5-13 with a 6.31 ERA in 28 starts since making his debut in 2019.
Pirates: Pittsburgh placed LHP Trevor Cahill on the 10-day injured list with a left calf strain. Cahill is 1-5 with a 6.57 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts) this season for the Pirates, who signed him to a one-year deal in mid-March.
Brewers: Along with transferring Shaw to the 60-day injured list, Milwaukee placed outfielder Tyrone Taylor on the 10-day injured list with a strained right shoulder suffered while making a throw during batting practice on Friday.
Will Crowe (0-4, 7.26 ERA) was recalled from Indianapolis and will start in Cahilll’s place Sunday when the Pirates wrap up their three-game trip to Milwaukee. Right-hander Adrian Houser (4-5, 3.66) gets the nod for Milwaukee.