Away from the cramped quarters of Miller Park, Wandy Rodriguez got his revenge.
Rodriguez, three starts removed from a poor outing on the road against the Milwaukee Brewers, shut them down with seven strong innings in the Pirates' 3-1 win Wednesday night at PNC Park.
Rodriguez (4-2) scattered six hits, three for extra bases, over seven innings, but limited a Brewers team that he has struggled against in the past to one run. He struck out five and walked one.
Rodriguez had a 4.14 ERA in 25 career games against the Brewers and had his worst start this season in a seven-run, 42/3-inning outing April 29 at Miller Park.
"He battled from start to finish," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Good three-pitch mix. The curveball, the changeup, the fastball to both sides, very aggressive."
The Brewers sent seven right-handed position players to the plate against Rodriguez. Only right fielder Norichika Aoki batted from the left side among the starting position players.
The Pirates, by contrast, started seven right-handers and switch-hitting Neil Walker against right-hander Yovani Gallardo. Hurdle sat Pedro Alvarez, 0 for 15 against Gallardo, and Clint Barmes, 1 for 17 against Gallardo, and started Brandon Inge and Jordy Mercer in their place.
Gaby Sanchez also started instead of Garrett Jones, who is 5 for 21 with eight walks against Gallardo; Hurdle had said Tuesday that he anticipated Jones would start against the remaining right-handers in the series against the Brewers.
"We haven't had a lot of lineups that have had a lot of success, so we threw all right-handers against him with the exception of Neil," Hurdle said.
Gallardo confounded that lineup through five innings, but he cracked in the sixth. He had walked five batters in his previous start, and two walks in the sixth helped the Pirates to break the scoreless tie.
Starling Marte led off with a double and took third on a wild pitch. Gallardo walked Andrew McCutchen and Sanchez to load the bases for Walker. Gallardo started Walker with an off-speed pitch over the outside corner.
"I know that when he gets in trouble, he likes to run to that little cutter-slider to get ahead," Walker said.
Walker stroked it up the middle, scoring Marte and McCutchen. Alex Gonzalez cut off Carlos Gomez's throw from center, which likely had a shot at McCutchen at the plate, and threw out Sanchez trying to go from first to third.
"You know you got the guy on the ropes there, especially with less than two outs and the bases loaded," Walker said. "You know he's got to come to you."
Walker drove in another run in the eighth. He batted with men on first and third and two outs, and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke summoned lefty Michael Gonzalez to turn Walker around. Walker grounded to second. Rickie Weeks dived to stop the ball but bounced his throw to first, and the error allowed a run to score.
Gallardo (3-3) allowed two runs on three hits in six innings, but walked four batters.
"We know what we got when we face him," Walker said. "He usually does a pretty good job against, not just us, but a lot of different teams."
Mark Melancon pitched a perfect eighth and Jason Grilli recorded his 16th save, tying him with New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera for the most in the major leagues.
"I feel a lot of confidence with the bullpen," Rodriguez said in Spanish, with bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade translating. "They're doing a really good job."
Jonathan Lucroy tripled off the right-center field wall just out of Jose Tabata's reach to lead off the fourth. Rodriguez then induced two pop-ups and a groundout to strand Lucroy on third.
"I used my breaking ball in that situation," Rodriguez said. "It was good that I got two pop-ups."
Weeks homered on the first pitch he saw from Rodriguez in the seventh, cutting the Pirates' lead to 2-1.
The Pirates have a chance to win the series Thursday night. Francisco Liriano will make his second start as a Pirate against right-hander Hiram Burgos, 25, who is making his fifth major league start.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published May 16, 2013 2:00 AM