Eric Thames hit 29th homer; Brewers beat Pirates 5-2

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 12: Domingo Santana #16 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a double in the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on September 12, 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

MILWAUKEE — Eric Thames hit his 29th home run, Domingo Santana went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Tuesday night.

The Brewers pulled within two games of the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs who were playing the New York Mets.

Gerrit Cole (11-10) took his first loss in 10 road starts since the Atlanta Braves beat him 5-2 on May 22. He slipped to 8-1 away from PNC Park over that stretch after allowing five runs and seven hits in six innings. He tied his season-high with 10 strikeouts in his fifth start against Milwaukee this season. He beat Milwaukee 8-1 on June 19 at Miller Park, striking out a season-high 10 for the first time.

Manager Craig Counsell turned to the bullpen to protect the 5-2 lead. Jeremy Jeffress, Oliver Drake, Jared Hughes, Anthony Swarzak and Josh Hader each turned in a scoreless inning. Jeffress (3-0) was the pitcher of record. Corey Knebel pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 40 chances.

Santana’s two-run double highlighted the Brewers’ four-run third.

With one out and the bases loaded, Ryan Braun hit into a fielder’s choice. An intentional walk set up the force at any base, but Santana foiled the move with his first hit. Thames added the last run with a sharp liner to right that beat the shift. Santana failed to slide coming home on the play and was an easy out.

Thames drove an 0-2 pitch into the second deck in right, but the Pirates took the lead the next inning on Jody Mercer’s run-scoring groundout and Jordan Luplow’s bloop RBI single off lefty Brent Suter.

Suter allowed two runs and three hits in his third outing and second start of three innings since coming off the disabled list Aug. 31 with left rotator cuff strain. He went three in his previous start Sept. 3 and pitched an inning of scoreless relief Sept. 5 in Cincinnati.