(The Sports Xchange) - Coming off one of his worst starts of the season, Jimmy Nelson’s decision to stick to his usual routine paid off as the Milwaukee Brewers’ right-hander dazzled in a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday.
Nelson (11-10) could not get out of the fourth inning last Wednesday at Cleveland, when he allowed five runs on four hits on a season-high eight walks.
The young pitcher did not walk anyone this time around, and he held the Pirates to a run on four hits while striking out six over seven innings at Miller Park.
“Walks are the biggest thing a pitcher can control,” Nelson said. “You’d rather have no walks and give up a few more hits here and there because sometimes a lot of those hits can turn into outs. Just force contact and let your defense work.”
Milwaukee’s offense made things easy for Nelson, getting an early jump on right-hander Gerrit Cole, who lasted a career-low four innings.
Cole (15-8) gave up four consecutive hits to open the game, including a double by first baseman Adam Lind that made it 3-0.
Milwaukee added another run before Cole could get out of the first inning, then took a 5-0 lead in the second on an RBI single by Jonathan Lucroy.
”I love that we were aggressive early in the count,“ Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. ”Then when we got to two strikes, we battled and found a way to put a ball in play.
“I thought we jumped on him. That first inning is a time where these good pitchers maybe aren’t quite into the rhythm of the game. That’s often the best time to get them. We were aggressive early and had good at-bats.”
Pittsburgh finally got on the board in the fifth, when shortstop Jung Ho Kang led off with a double, then scored on an single up the middle by second baseman Neil Walker.
Nelson got first baseman Pedro Alvarez to fly out, and he ended the inning with a double play. He allowed just one hit the rest of the way.
Alvarez cut into the lead with a solo home run in the eighth off right-hander Corey Knebel but the Brewers added two more in the bottom of the inning on a single by shortstop Jean Segura.
“It was a big hit by Seggy,” Counsell said. “The two-RBI single gave us some breathing room.”
The Brewers would need it in the ninth when right-hander David Goforth allowed back-to-back, two-out, solo home runs to third baseman Aramis Ramirez and Kang, then gave up a double to Walker.
Looking to prevent a comeback, Counsell called on right-hander Francisco Rodriguez. The closer got Alvarez to fly out to center on one pitch, locking down his 32nd save of the season.
Editing by John O'Brien