- Associated Press - Thursday, May 15, 2014

MILWAUKEE (AP) - In his first 21 outings, pitching a single inning in each game, Francisco Rodriguez gave up only nine hits and just one run.

That all changed Wednesday night in his 22nd appearance.

Backup catcher Chris Stewart’s single keyed a three-run burst in the ninth inning against Rodriguez and sent the Pittsburgh Pirates past Milwaukee 4-1, ending the Brewers’ three-game winning streak.

Rodriguez (1-1) hadn’t given up more than two hits in a game until the Pirates tagged him for four consecutive hits to beat the Brewers for only the second time in nine games.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t my day,” he said. “I didn’t perform at the level I was expecting or everyone else was expecting. You just have to turn the page quick and be ready for the next day.”

Rodriguez has had a heavy workload over the first quarter of the season and his changeup, which dominated hitters in the early part of the year, has been up in the strike zone the past couple of games.

Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said he doesn’t think his closer is tiring.

“I think his fastball is still really good,” Roenicke said. “Actually, his fastball is getting better. His changeup isn’t as good, he has just been up in the zone with it.”

Milwaukee managed only six hits and went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position minus Carlos Gomez. The star center fielder dropped his appeal Wednesday and began a three-game suspension for his part in a bench-clearing fracas at Pittsburgh on Easter Sunday.

“We didn’t swing the bat that well,” Roenicke said.

It was 1-all in the ninth when Ike Davis singled past diving first baseman Mark Reynolds in the Pittsburgh ninth and Jordy Mercer singled sharply to center.

Stewart, making only his eighth start of the season, then singled to center. The throw from Gomez’s replacement, Elian Herrera, was wide of the plate, allowing pinch-runner Clint Barmes to score without a play and snap a 1-all tie.

“It was a big swing of the bat for us,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.

Starling Marte, playing for the first time since exiting Saturday with tightness in his back, then hit a two-run double to the center-field wall.

Tony Watson (4-0) pitched a scoreless eighth. Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his fifth save in six chances.

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