Karstens helps Bucs snap skid with 4-0 win over Brewers
There are plenty of pitchers who throw harder than Pirates right-hander Jeff Karstens, but not many who think harder on the mound.
With only an average fastball, Karstens relies on savvy. Catcher Michael McKenry says it's fun to catch Karstens because he's constantly changing strategy to keep batters guessing.
Karstens kept the Milwaukee Brewers off balance for seven innings Saturday at PNC Park, and the Pirates scored four unearned runs to claim a 4-0 victory and snap a four-game losing streak.
“Jeff gave us exactly what we needed,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Karstens left the game in the eighth inning with an apparent groin injury. He was in obvious discomfort after throwing a pitch to Norichika Aoki and walked off the mound after talking with the trainer.
“I'm relieved ... all the tests came back pretty good,” Karstens said. “I don't see myself having to miss any time (on the disabled list). I should be ready to go in five days.”
Karstens spent two months on the DL earlier this season with shoulder inflammation. He left a rehab start in June with tightness in his right groin, which led to extra time on the DL.
Pirates left fielder Jose Tabata left the game in the sixth inning because of discomfort in his left groin. Karstens and Tabata will be re-evaluated by doctors Sunday.
Karstens (5-3) pitched seven-plus innings and gave up seven hits, walked none and struck out four.
Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum (5-4) made his first start since coming off the 60-day disabled list.
With two outs in the second inning, Pedro Alvarez fought back from an 0-2 count and hit a liner off the right-field wall. It was a close play at second, but Alvarez hustled to the bag for a double.
McKenry walked. With Clint Barmes at bat, catcher Martin Maldonado fired a snap throw to second base. Alvarez, who had strayed off the bag, went back standing up and was out by a half-step. It was a close call, but umpire Paul Nauert got it right.
Aramis Ramirez ripped a leadoff double in the fifth. But Karstens regrouped and struck out Corey Hart and Maldonado and retired Carlos Gomez on a grounder.
“We didn't do much against him,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Karstens.
In the bottom of the inning, Neil Walker lifted a routine fly to right-center, but center fielder Carlos Gomez dropped it.
Walker scored from first base on McKenry's double to the North Side Notch.
With two outs, Karstens went down to get an 0-2 pitch and grounded it up the middle for an RBI single.
“I looked pretty bad on the first two pitches,” Karstens said. “I wanted to be quick and cover the outside (of the zone). It helped us out and got some guys fired up. It got me fired up, I know that.”
Tabata scalded a double to the left-field gap, scoring Karstens. Travis Snider singled, scoring Tabata.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7811.