Thames homers, Anderson solid as Brewers beat Pirates 8-2
MILWAUKEE — Center fielder Brett Phillips made the highlight reel and blooper reel on the same night, not bad for a Milwaukee Brewers rookie who wasn’t even supposed to be in the starting lineup Wednesday.
The last-minute replacement for injured Domingo Santana threw out a runner at the plate in an 8-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Phillips added two hits and three RBIs at the plate. And he had a memorable trip between first and second base on a broken-bat single in the third inning.
Eric Thames hit his team-high 30th homer and Chase Anderson pitched effectively on three days’ rest for the Brewers, who remained 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Cubs in the NL Central.
Phillips ended the top of the fourth by throwing a perfect strike to the plate to get slow-footed David Freese, who was trying to score from third on a flyout by Elias Diaz.
“The Phillips play was an enormous play in the game, I thought. An outstanding play,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.
Phillips hit a two-run single in a four-run third that also included Thames’ shot to left. But he lost his footing and fell to the turf after having to jump out of the way of a throw from the outfield.
Phillips stumbled on his way to second, but still made it safely after a late throw home failed to get the runner.
“Good form on the dive. It was just a little too early, probably 30 feet too early,” he deadpanned.
Milwaukee got to Tyler Glasnow (2-7) for five runs, four hits and six walks over 2 2/3 innings in the right-hander’s first start since returning from the minors Sunday.
“He stayed aggressive. He used secondary pitches behind in the count,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “But the overall fastball command continued to put him upside down in counts.”
The Brewers moved back into second place in the NL Central, a half-game ahead of St. Louis after the Cardinals lost 6-0 to the Reds.
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The Brewers also learned Wednesday that they will host a three-game series this weekend against the Marlins instead of traveling to Miami as originally scheduled, as South Florida recovers from Hurricane Irma. Milwaukee will be the visiting team in its own stadium, Miller Park.
From the perspective of the pennant race, it’s a big opportunity for the Brewers as they try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
“It works out certainly (well) for us,” Counsell said before the game. “I’ll tell you after the weekend whether it’s an advantage or not.”
Hurdle was thrown out of the game with one out in the first by plate umpire Bill Welke following a called ball on a pitch to Neil Walker that appeared to be in the lower half of the strike zone. It was Hurdle’s sixth ejection of the year.
“There’s times you know you crossed the line, you pay a penalty. There’s times when you make a bad call, you just need to move on. That didn’t impact the game greatly. It impacted that at-bat, though,” Hurdle said.
Anderson (10-3) gave the battered pitching staff a lift in his first career start on three days’ rest. The righty allowed Andrew McCutchen’s first-inning solo shot — the veteran outfielder’s 200th career homer — before exiting with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth.
Diaz snapped an 0-for-15 slump with a run-scoring infield single that chased Anderson. He started in place of Jimmy Nelson, out for the rest of the season with a right shoulder injury.
“It’s cool, but I plan on playing for another 10 years.” — The 30-year-old McCutchen on his milestone homer .
Pirates: RHP Joaquin Benoit missed a third straight game. He is home in the Dominican Republic because of a family issue.
Brewers: Santana was a last-minute scratch with a right upper back muscle injury.
Pirates: After an off day in Cincinnati, Chad Kuhl (7-10) takes the mound to open a three-game series against the Reds on Friday. The right-hander has a 2.30 ERA in his last five starts.
Brewers: Counsell was undecided on who would start Friday against the Marlins, though the skipper did say that he would likely rely a lot on his bullpen.