MILWAUKEE (AP) — Zach Davies couldn’t hold an early lead and it proved costly to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Davies gave up a go-ahead double to Francisco Cervelli in the fourth inning that lifted the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-2 win over the Brewers on Saturday night.
Milwaukee lost for just the fourth time in 15 games and dropped 2 1/2 games behind the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs. The Brewers’ lead for the NL’s top wild card was cut to three games over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“The team was there till the end of it,” Davies said, even though he was finished after five innings. “The fight’s still there. It’s going to be fighting till the end of the season.”
Christian Yelich reached 30 homers for the first time when he connected in the first off Ivan Nova (9-9).
“You got to be careful with that guy,” Nova said of Yelich. “I went 1-1 trying to go in off the plate, missed off the plate and guy hit a homer.”
Nova wasn’t worried, though.
“The game doesn’t end in the first inning,” Nova said. “You got to move on.”
Nova gave up one run and four hits in six innings. He retired 17 of the next 20 batters after Yelich’s homer.
“He got through six innings pretty easy, really,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We didn’t get much going on with him as the game progressed.”
Nova downplayed any suggestion of the Pirates playing the role of spoiler.
“No, you want to finish strong,” he said after helping the Pirates improve to 10-5 against the Brewers this season. “It don’t matter who you are facing, you just want to finish strong. You want to get the job done.”
Colin Moran hit a tying RBI double in the second. Pittsburgh scored its final run in the sixth when Starling Marte doubled and came around when Josh Bell stole his first base since June 22 last year, and catcher Erik Kratz’s throwing bounced into center field for an error.
Davies (2-6), who had two stints on the disabled list this season caused by right rotator cuff inflammation, made his third start since his latest return to the majors and allowed two runs, three hits and a walk.
Rookie Richard Rodriguez pitched the seventh, Kyle Crick followed in the eighth and Felipe Vazquez allowed a pair of singles in the ninth before retiring Mike Moustakas on a lineout and Domingo Santana on a flyout, and then striking out Jonathan Schoop. Vazquez has 33 saves in 37 chances, including the longest active streak in the major leagues at 23.
Pirates: Reliever Keone Kela won’t pitch again this season. The right-hander worked a scoreless inning in his last appearance on Sept. 3 at Atlanta. His 52 innings are the most since a career-high 60 1/3 in 2015. “Enough has been accomplished,” Hurdle said of Kela’s high-leverage situations and workload. … C Elias Diaz has not played since leaving the game in Atlanta on Aug. 31 with right hamstring discomfort. He has begun running the bases.
Brewers: RHP Jimmy Nelson, on the 60-day DL after right shoulder surgery, is to pitch batting practice at the Brewers’ complex in Phoenix.
Cervelli was at the plate at the time and reacted angrily to a called third strike by plate umpire Tripp Gibson. Both Cervelli and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle were ejected. Hurdle ran out of the dugout to separate Cervelli and Gibson, and crew chief Brian Gorman kept Hurdle away from Gibson as Cervelli finally left the field.
Yelich became the ninth player in Brewers franchise history to hit 30 home runs and score 100 runs in a season and the first since Ryan Braun did it in 2012.
Yelich has reached in 30 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the NL.
Brewers RHP Jhoulys Chacin (14-7, 3.54 ERA) is 0-2 with a 2.28 ERA in four starts against Pittsburgh this season. Pirates RHP Trevor Williams (12-9, 3.28 ERA) is 3-0 in his last four road starts going into Sunday and has not allowed a run in three of the four.