MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brent Suter has turned out to be the wild card in the wild card chase for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Rookies Keston Hiura and Trent Grisham each hit two-run homers and Suter was superb again in middle relief as the Brewers increased their edge for the second NL wild-card spot, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-1 Saturday night.
Suter (3-0) relieved to start the fifth and pitched two scoreless innings. The left-hander, who missed last season’s playoff run after Tommy John surgery, has allowed one earned run in 14 1/3 innings in seven appearances since being activated Sept. 1.
“He’s been incredible,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “The amount of pitches that it’s taking him to get through innings is shocking, really. You just don’t see it. He obviously works fast, he’s in the zone, the hitters are not comfortable. But he has essentially controlled middle of games for us.”
The Brewers lead Chicago by three games in the wild-card race after the Cubs lost to St. Louis. Milwaukee remained one game behind Washington for the top wild-card slot.
Suter gave up a home run in his first game back, a 4-3 loss to Houston, but he has not allowed a run since.
“Personally, it’s very fulfilling, I’ll be very honest,” said Suter, drafted in the 31st round out of Harvard in 2012. “Because, last year kind of missing out on it, just being on the bench the whole time, it was cool, but it wasn’t the same as being out there and contributing.”
Milwaukee has won seven of eight and extended its September record to 16-4, tops in the major leagues. The Brewers are 9-2 since losing reigning MVP Christian Yelich to a fractured kneecap.
Hiura put staked the Brewers to a 2-1 lead in the first with his 18th home run, atoning for his error at second base in the top half that handed the Pirates a run.
Grisham, who drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth, put the Brewers up 10-1 in the seventh with his sixth homer.
Brewers starter Zach Davies gave up an unearned run on three hits in four innings before being lifted for a pinch-hitter.
“I thought we had a chance to break the game open,” Counsell said. “We ended up getting four at-bats with the bases loaded that inning. We scored a couple, and gave us some space, which I thought was important. Zach was throwing the very well.”
The Brewers pushed the lead to 5-1 with three runs in the fourth, aided by a pair of bases-loaded walks. Ryan Braun singled to open, Eric Thames was hit by a pitch and Lorenzo Cain followed with an RBI single.
Pirates starter James Marvel (0-3) walked two straight to load the bases and then force in a run. Parker Markel relieved and struck out Yasmani Grandal, but then walked in another run.
“He navigated the second and third OK, left some men out there but put up zeroes and it seemed like he poured out everything he had in the fourth inning and he just ran out of gas,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Marvel.
Cain added an RBI singled in the fifth and Braun doubled in two more in the sixth.
“We didn’t play as well throughout the season, as well as we would have liked, but we’ve turning it on the last two weeks and having another great September,” Cain said. “Hopefully we can continue to play well and finish this thing out.”
Pirates: C Elias Diaz left in the fourth inning with a right knee injury, sustained while stopping a pitch in the dirt. “He got looked at by our doctor, he’s being treated and we’ll know more tomorrow morning,” Hurdle said.
Brewers: Hiura was lifted for a pinch-runner after being hit by a pitch in the eighth inning.
Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (7-7, 5.59 ERA) is 3-2 with a 7.15 ERA in his last seven starts. He was tagged for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings with two homers and three walks in his last outing.
Brewers: All-Star RHP Brandon Woodruff (11-3, 3.69 ERA) makes his second start since missing two months with a left oblique strain. Woodruff allowed one walk in two hitless innings in his first start back, with four strikeouts.
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TOP PHOTO: Milwaukee Brewers’ Keston Hiura hits a two-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)