The Pirates' Wandy Rodriguez pitches against the Brewers during the first inning in Milwaukee.
By Michael Sanserino Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
MILWAUKEE -- Maybe they should call it the House of Homers instead.
The Brewers blasted five home runs to beat the Pirates, 10-4, Monday night at Miller Park, a stadium that has long haunted the Pirates.
Recently, it has been the long ball that has spooked them the most. The Pirates (15-11) surrendered five home runs to the Brewers in their final game here in 2012. That's 10 homers and 22 runs in the Pirates' past two games at Miller Park.
"We got beat up," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We got beat up off the mound."
Coincidentally, Milwaukee starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo homered in both games.
The Brewers (13-11) battered Wandy Rodriguez, who allowed seven earned runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He gave up three homers after allowing two total in his previous four starts this season.
Rodriguez is 3-8 in his career with a 6.46 ERA at Miller Park.
"It's not the park. It's me," Rodriguez said. "I didn't have good location. I had nothing on the ball."
Jonathan Sanchez, making his first relief appearance since July 30, 2010, allowed two earned runs -- both solo homers -- in 2 1/3 innings.
The Brewers beat the Pirates, 12-8, Sept. 2, 2012, the final game between the two teams of the season in Milwaukee. The Brewers tagged James McDonald, scheduled to start today, for four home runs in that game.
Milwaukee hit multiple homers in five of the nine games played between the two clubs in 2012 at Miller Park.
And if the homers weren't enough, the Brewers also had three triples Monday.
"When you don't make good pitches, the ball's going to fly here," Hurdle said. "They're going to have a good hitting team here."
A five-run first doomed Rodriguez, who entered the game with the best ERA among Pirates starters.
He allowed a home run, a double and a single in the first inning and walked four batters as he struggled with his command. He let the first six batters he faced to reach base, and all nine Milwaukee batters got to the plate in the inning, which started with a one-run Pirates lead.
"A lot of hitters, I started behind in the count," Rodriguez said. "For the hitters, that's easy. They know what's coming because when you start behind in the count, you have to throw a fastball for a strike. They know a fastball's coming, and they hit it."
With leadoff batter Norichika Aoki on first, Carlos Segura drilled an 89-mph fastball Rodriguez left up in the strike zone, a two-run homer that hit the batter's eye in straight-away center field.
Only when Russell Martin picked off Jonathan Lucroy at first base did the Pirates record their first out of the inning.
Of the 38 pitches he threw in the first inning, less than half (17) went for strikes.
"We weren't able to execute any part of our game plan off the mound," Hurdle said. "Zero."
Rodriguez's defense missed a chance to minimize the damage when shortstop Clint Barmes botched what would have been an inning-ending double play. With runners on first and second, Yuniesky Betancourt hit a sharp grounder right at Barmes, who couldn't field the ball cleanly. Barmes threw out Betancourt at first, but Ryan Braun scored on the play to make it 3-0.
Had Barmes turned the double play, Rodriguez and the Pirates could have escaped trailing 2-1. Instead, they trailed, 5-1.
Rodriguez entered the game with a 1.66 ERA, finished the first at 3.57 and finished the game at 3.91.
"Bad location, bad day," he said.
Gallardo (3-1) allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits in seven innings. He improves to 10-2 in 15 career appearances against the Pirates.
He helped his own cause in the fourth with a solo home run, his second of the season which tied him with Andrew McCutchen, Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton. He has hit four of his 12 career home runs against the Pirates.
Aoki followed Gallardo with a solo shot as the Brewers claimed a 7-2 lead. Betancourt also homered later in the game.
The Pirates cut into the deficit in the third inning with some assistance from Brewers first baseman Martin Maldonado, who committed two errors in one play. Maldonado let a hard hit grounder by Garrett Jones squeeze through his legs, and a rushed throw to try to get Jones at first rolled past home plate, allowing Jones to take second.
Gaby Sanchez followed with a double, scoring Jones to make it 5-2.
Jones hit his third home run of the season later in the game, a two-run shot to take the Pirates RBI lead at 15.