PITTSBURGH — Every time Ji Hwan Bae makes contact with a baseball, he’s thinking triple.
Yet for the first 102 games of the utility player’s career, something always seemed to get in the way whenever the ball found open grass. A good throw from the outfield. A slower teammate in front of him. A cautious third base coach.
They all fell away when Bae laced a ball into the gap in right-center during Pittsburgh’s 5-4 victory over Milwaukee on Wednesday. Bae caught teammate Jason Delay chugging toward home and third base coach Mike Rabello’s right arm windmilling. It was all the encouragement he needed.
By the time Bae slid safely into third for his first career triple off Elvis Peguero (4-5), the Pirates were on their way to their seventh victory in nine games.
“Delay was busting his (butt),” Bae said. “I don’t really mind if they throw me out because that means (Delay) is going to score.”
Bae later provided some insurance when he scored on a pinch-hit single by Miguel Andújar. Ke’Bryan Hayes hit his 13th homer of the season, including eight in the last month. Carmen Mdlozinski (3-3) picked up the win in relief. David Bednar worked around a leadoff single by Andruw Monasterio while earning his 33rd save.
Bednar closed the door hours after the club announced designated hitter Andrew McCutchen would miss the rest of the season with a partially torn left Achilles.
“We lost a core member of our team, but he’ll still be around us,” Bae said. “It should be fun. But I mean it still sucks.”
Willy Adames had two hits, including a three-run homer off opener Colin Selby in the first, but the NL Central-leading Brewers lost for the fifth time in eight games since a nine-game winning streak.
Milwaukee had the tying run on base in both the eighth and ninth innings. Pinch-hitter Rowdy Tellez grounded into a double play to end the eighth and Bednar struck out William Contreras looking on a 97 mph full-count fastball that looked a little outside.
“You don’t want the game to end on a missed call,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Milwaukee starter Freddy Peralta’s bid to win his sixth straight start ended in the sixth. Bryan Reynolds singled with one out, Hayes walked and Jack Suwinski doubled to center to pull Pittsburgh within one. Trevor Megill replaced Peralta and immediately surrendered an RBI single to Josh Palacios that tied the game.
Peralta gave up three runs and four hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
“Everything’s been great,” Peralta said. “Today just, I don’t know. It wasn’t my best day … I was two outs away from having a quality start but it happens.”
Pittsburgh took two of three from the Brewers while facing the top end of Milwaukee’s rotation in Peralta, Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff.
“It was great to be able to get two from our division leaders,” Hayes said of the Pirates, who are 24-21 over their last 45 games while featuring a young lineup pointed toward the future. “We did a pretty good job against all three starters, for the most part against their bullpen, too. We were able to come back today and get a big win.”
Pirates: SS Oneil Cruz (fractured left ankle) has re-started a running program. The club remains optimistic that Cruz, who has been out since early April, can go on a rehab assignment before the end of the season. … RF Henry Davis (wrist soreness) is hitting off a pitching machine without issue but there remains no timetable for a return.
Brewers: Have an off day Thursday before continuing a six-game road trip on Friday in the Bronx against the New York Yankees. Colin Rea (5-5, 5.07 ERA) starts for Milwaukee in the opener.
Pirates: Off on Thursday before beginning a three-game series at NL East-leading Atlanta on Friday.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb