- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Milwaukee second baseman Scooter Gennett saw Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison chugging for third leading off the bottom of the ninth in a tie game on Tuesday night and did some quick math.

“In that play, especially with no outs there, we’re trying to get that guy out,” Gennett said. “A runner on third with no outs is not very good. I took a chance at it.”

One that didn’t work out for the struggling Brewers. Gennett’s relay throw skipped by teammate Hernan Perez at third and out of play, allowing Harrison to stroll home and give the Pirates a 3-2 victory.

Perez’s RBI single off Pittsburgh All-Star closer Mark Melancon (1-1) with two outs in the top of the ninth had tied the game, though the momentum lasted only as long as it took Harrison to drill an offering from Tyler Thornburg (3-4) off the wall in right-center to set up the winning sequence.

“We’re taught just to throw it right at the guy and hope for the best,” Gennett said. “That’s what I did and it didn’t work out.”

Milwaukee lost for the fifth time in six games, the last two defeats coming on walk-off hits.

“It’s not fun when you get walked off on but for the most part we’re playing good baseball,” Gennett said. “We’re in these ballgames. Got to keep grinding and eventually we’ll run into some win streaks.”

Junior Guerra overcame a shaky start to allow two runs over six innings, striking out six and walking three. Guerra’s only wobble came in the first, when two walks and a single by Andrew McCutchen loaded the bases with one out. David Freese loped a soft single to right field to score Gregory Polanco and Francisco Cervelli’s fly to left easily plated McCutchen to give Taillon an early lead.

Guerra surrendered one more hit over his final five innings.

“Junior was excellent like he’s been all year,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.

Pirates rookie Jameson Taillon pitched six innings in his return from the disabled list, narrowly avoiding serious injury after taking a line drive off his head in the second.

With one out, Perez sent a liner toward the mound that drilled Taillon on the back of the head. The 24-year-old rookie lay on the ground for several moments while being tended to by trainers but was permitted to stay in the game.

“Whenever someone gets hit in the head, it’s scary,” Gennett said. “He stayed in there and almost pitched even better after getting hit in the head, which is pretty incredible.”

The scare hardly seemed to faze Taillon, who allowed one run and five hits, striking out three without a walk before being removed after throwing 65 pitches in his first start since being placed on the disabled list on June 28 with right shoulder fatigue.

Chris Carter doubled leading off the fourth and scored on a groundout by Perez but otherwise Taillon kept the Brewers in check as he outpitched Guerra, who has been one of the bright spots for the struggling Brewers.

“I thought we hit some balls hard off (Taillon) but we couldn’t get the runner-in-scoring position hit,” Counsell said.

Milwaukee went just 1 for 8 with men in scoring position, the lone hit Perez’s single up the middle that scored Ryan Braun, who had led off the ninth with a five-pitch walk against Melancon. Counsell is hopeful his team’s gritty performance against one of the better closers in the game can provide a boost going forward.

“Against an All-Star closer, a guy that’s been lights out all season, we had the guys up there we wanted,” Counsell said. “Braun … got us started, put pressure on Melancon and then a big two-out hit. It’s good to see.”


Pirates: RF Gregory Polanco went 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored while showing no ill effects from a sore left hamstring that kept him sidelined since July 8.


Brewers: Chase Anderson (4-10, 5.44 ERA) will try to get a handle on his control issues on Wednesday night when he makes his second start of the season against the Pirates. Anderson has issued a career-high five walks in each of his last two starts, both losses to St. Louis.

Pirates: Jeff Locke (8-5, 5.26 ERA) will try to win his fourth straight decision on Wednesday night when he makes his 18th start of the season. Locke is 5-5 with a 3.76 ERA in 13 career starts against the Brewers.

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