Home runs are a major theme as the Pittsburgh Pirates and the visiting Milwaukee Brewers round the corner into the second half of a four-game series.
The Pirates hit five homers on Thursday to open the series with an 8-7 win for their second victory in a row. Milwaukee answered with five long balls on Friday in a 19-2 win for its fifth victory in six games.
The Brewers rode a bit of momentum into the Friday game after nearly pulling off a comeback the previous night. Milwaukee scored three times in the ninth inning on Thursday and had the tying and go-ahead runs on base when the last out was made.
Willy Adames, who hit a grand slam for Milwaukee on Friday, was quick to bring up Thursday's character game in a loss before tooting the Brewers' horn over the Friday rout.
"We battled back and we almost got the win, and that tells you that we never give up," Adames told Bally Sports Wisconsin. "I was proud of that game, even though we didn't get the win. I think that's why we came back (Friday) with the same approach -- just to go out there and attack."
And when that attack produces three homers in a seven-run second inning as Milwaukee got Friday, it doesn't hurt.
"It takes a lot of pressure off," Adames said. "It's always fun when you have a night like that. Hopefully, we can have a lot of those this season."
The Pirates would rather that not happen against them.
"We have to flush (Friday's loss)," Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. "Flush it and move on and come back out (Saturday)."
Pittsburgh is scheduled to start right-hander Bryse Wilson (0-4, 8.29 ERA) on Saturday against Milwaukee left-hander Aaron Ashby (1-5, 4.25).
Wilson has split his season between the major and minor leagues and between the bullpen and the rotation. His last major league appearance was a start June 14 against the St. Louis Cardinals, when he took a loss after giving up seven runs and 10 hits in five innings with three strikeouts and one walk.
Wilson is 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA in four career games, three of them starts, against the Brewers. In his lone appearance vs. Milwaukee this year, he threw four shutout innings in relief on April 27.
Ashby is expected to be activated from the injured list on Saturday after recovering from left forearm inflammation. In his last three starts before landing on the IL on June 17, Ashby gave up 14 runs on 23 hits in 15 innings.
Ashby, in his second major league season, is 0-0 with a 0.93 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings in two career starts against Pittsburgh. He limited the Pirates to one run in 5 2/3 innings during a no-decision on April 27.
Getting Ashby back is important for the Brewers, who just got starter Brandon Woodruff back from the IL this week and have two other ailing starters -- Freddy Peralta (right shoulder strain) and Adrian Houser (left forearm flexor strain), who left the Thursday game against the Pirates in the third inning.
Counsell said Houser, who previously had Tommy John surgery, has no structural damage and could resume throwing in a few weeks.
--Field Level Media