PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Break out the champagne -- the Milwaukee Brewers finally won, and they barely needed to swing their bats to do it.
The Brewers, who hit a lot of homers in losing their first six games, relied on walks by Pirates starter Kip Wells for most of their scoring Tuesday night and ruined Pittsburgh's home opener with a 5-3 victory -- the first for new manager Ned Yost.Glendon Rusch (1-1), previously 0-6 against Pittsburgh, was everything Wells wasn't -- effective and in control -- in limiting the Pirates to one hit over seven innings. He struck out seven and walked two to end a personal four-game losing streak."He was fantastic,'' said Yost, a former Braves coach. "I almost thought about letting him go back out in the eighth, but early in the year we want to protect our guys.''Yost might have been second-guessing himself after Jason Kendall hit a three-run homer in the eighth off reliever Luis Vizcaino, but Valerio De Los Santos got out of the inning. Mike DeJean pitched the ninth for his first save.Afterward, the Brewers' coaches toasted the victory by presenting Yost with a bottle of champagne, even though it took Milwaukee seven games to finally win."We were very happy for Ned,'' shortstop Royce Clayton said. "He's very enthusiastic and we've had a couple of tough games. It was nice to get the first one for him.''Scott Podsednik drove in two runs as Milwaukee avoided the first 0-7 start in club history.The paid attendance was 36,003 for the home opener, which was delayed a night by rain. About two-thirds that many showed up on a dry but cool night in which the temperature dropped into the low 40s by game's end.The Pirates had nearly every statistical edge going for them,
yet still lost their home opener for the ninth time in 10 seasons.
They had won 15 of 19 from Milwaukee at PNC Park, had never lost to
Rusch in 10 games and were coming off a 5-1 road trip.But Wells (0-1) couldn't find the strike zone in one of the
wildest starts in years by a Pirates pitcher, walking seven in
four-plus innings while throwing only 42 of 92 pitches for strikes.He walked Rusch twice -- the pitcher had only five walks in 176
career at-bats -- as his wildness was responsible for all three runs
against him."There's no reason to swing the bat if I'm not throwing strikes,'' Wells said. "My stuff moves a lot, but I couldn't get the ball over the plate and it's hard to manage when you don't know where it's going.''Wells was wild immediately, walking four in the first two
innings, with Alex Sanchez drawing a bases-loaded walk in the
second. At the same time, Rusch was cruising, allowing only a
harmless single by Kevin Young in the second until being lifted
after throwing 107 pitches.Wells was nearing the 100-pitch mark himself when he left
following John Vander Wal's leadoff walk and third baseman Aramis
Ramirez's error for mishandling Wes Helms' grounder in the fifth. It was the second costly error by the Pirates' infield; second
baseman Pokey Reese dropped a throw on a force play that would have
ended the second without any scoring."I'm to blame the way I set the table,'' Wells said. "There
were deep pitch counts and long innings and the defense is standing
out there behind you in the cold.''Salomon Torres replaced Wells and was greeted by Podsednik's
run-scoring single -- only the second Brewers hit to that point to
leave the infield. After Clayton singled in a run, Rusch put down a
perfectly placed suicide squeeze that scored Podsednik standing up
from third and made it 4-0."You want to contribute at the plate if you can,'' Rusch said.
"If you can get a run in like that -- well, you saw how quickly it
became 5-3.''Eric Young doubled and scored on Podsednik's grounder in the sixth. The poor outing was reminiscent of Wells' PNC Park debut a year ago, when he gave up six runs in 1 1-3 innings of an 8-5 loss to Cincinnati.
Milwaukee hit 12 homers in its first six games, but was
outscored 42-23. ... Kendall has three homers in seven games, as
many as he hit last season. ... Reese already has four errors after
making only five last season. ... Rusch was 0-4 since beating
Houston on Sept. 18, losing his first start of the season 7-0 to
St. Louis on April 2. ... The Pirates beat Cincinnati 1-0 in their
home opener last season after losing every opener since 1994. ...
Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner threw out the ceremonial first pitch. A
bronze sculpture honoring Kiner, to be displayed near the
left-field entrance, also was unveiled. ... Before Wells, Todd
Ritchie was the last Pirates starter to walk seven, against
Milwaukee on Sept. 23, 2000. Ritchie starts for the Brewers on