Visiting Pirates hold off Brewers in a wild one
MILWAUKEE — After watching the Pirates sputter and struggle to score runs all year, manager Clint Hurdle has given each of his player the same question to ponder this offseason.
"What kind of offensive club do we want to be?" Hurdle said. "I want answers and ideas. We really need to come up with our offensive identity. We'll need every guy making a stronger commitment to having more consistent at-bats next season."
Even if Pedro Alvarez finds his mojo and Derrek Lee is re-signed, the Pirates will not be a power-crazy team next year. They must find other ways to generate runs.
"We can run the bases better," Hurdle said. "We can run the bases smarter. We've got to be able to hit and run more. And we've got to find the barrel more often. When you do that, who knows where that will take you?"
Monday, the Pirates collected 13 hits and outlasted the Milwaukee Brewers, 9-8. It was their highest run output at Miller Park since 2005, but they did it with a schizophrenic attack that included a dash of power — a leadoff homer and game-winning double by Alex Presley — and nine singles.
Once again, the Pirates didn't make enough contact. They struck out 10 times, two more than their average this season. They already have set a franchise record for most whiffs in a season (1,295).
To snap their 12-game losing streak at Miller Park, the Pirates had to survive two late scares. Jason Grilli walked a batter and hit two others with pitches with one out in the eighth, but the Brewers failed to score.
Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan earned his 40th save, escaping a jam in which he put the tying run on third with no outs in the ninth.
"It's Milwaukee," Hanrahan said with a shrug. "This kind of game happens for us all the time here."
Presley gave the Pirates the lead in the first inning the old-fashioned way, with a solo home run to right field. It was Presley's first career leadoff homer.
But the power game wasn't going to play all night, especially with Andrew McCutchen, who tops the team with 23 homers, out of the lineup.
McCutchen was scratched after being struck in the lower abdomen by a line drive off Derrek Lee's bat during batting practice. McCutchen said he expects to be able to play Tuesday.
The bottom half of the lineup came through in the second inning. Alvarez, batting seventh, dropped a broken-bat single into shallow center to score Garrett Jones. Presley's bloop single also scored a run.
Alvarez had a two-run double with two outs in the fifth. In the sixth, Neil Walker's RBI single made it 8-3.
The Brewers got two runs off Charlie Morton in the fifth. With two outs in the sixth, they had six straight batters reach base. Reliever Chris Leroux walked Yuniesky Betancourt — who'd walked only 15 times over the previous 159 games — with the bases loaded to tie it, 8-8.
Michael McKenry walked with two outs in the seventh against Takashi Saito (4-2). Presley followed with a game-winning, RBI double to center.