Milwaukee outfielder Khris Davis’ decisive home run will not be the lasting image of the Pirates’ 3-2 loss to the Brewers in 14 innings Sunday at PNC Park.
That image will likely be the mass of bodies in shallow left field, Carlos Gomez and Travis Snider entangled in the middle of the vortex, in a benches-clearing fight.
The Pirates lost the series, three games to one. They have now lost three in a row, five out of six and eight of their past 10.
Davis hit a hanging breaking ball off Jeanmar Gomez out to left field to lead off the 14th. That came three hours after the fight that began when Carlos Gomez tripled to center with two outs in the third.
Gomez said he thought he hit a fly-ball out, so he flipped his bat and jogged to first base only to pick up the pace when the ball bounced off the wall. Pitcher Gerrit Cole had words for Gomez when he reached third.
“I said, ‘If you’re going to hit a home run, you can watch it,’” Cole said. “‘If you’re going to hit a fly ball to center field, don’t watch it.’”
Gomez took exception, shouting back, and third-base umpire Jim Reynolds restrained him.
At that point, benches cleared. Snider came out of the dugout and got in Gomez’s face, causing Gomez to fight against Reynolds in an attempt to reach Snider. Snider went after Gomez, shoving him to the ground.
“Everything had stopped,” Gomez said. “[Gerrit] told me something, I told him back, then I talked to the umpire. Then Snider came like a superhero, trying to throw punches at everybody. I just tried to protect myself.”
They threw punches, but not many landed. One did: Brewers backup catcher Martin Maldonado punched Snider in the face as Rickie Weeks had Snider in a bear hug, trying to pull him away from the scrum.
“The fair thing would be to have our team hold down Maldonado so that Travis can go back and sucker-punch him right in the face,” Martin said.
Maldonado is the same player who slid into Jordy Mercer’s ankle in the third inning Friday night.
“Snider and Martin were over Gomez,” said Maldonado, who expects to be suspended. “It wasn’t fair, so I needed to protect my teammate.”
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Snider would be fine. Martin said Snider had a cut under his right eye because he was wearing sunglasses when he was punched. Snider had left the clubhouse by the time it was open to reporters.
“I didn’t try to provoke a fight; I was frustrated and I let my emotions get the better of me and I ended up getting one of my teammates hurt,” Cole said. “Not too thrilled about it.”
The umpires eventually ejected Gomez, Snider and Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron, who continued to yell at the umpires. Maldonado was not punished.
“I’m not apologetic for anything that I did,” Gomez said. “I was just doing my job.”
Pirates closer Jason Grilli blew his second consecutive save in the same fashion as Saturday night: allowing a ninth-inning home run to Ryan Braun, this one tying the score at 2-2.
“We wanted to get him the ball back as quick as possible to get him the opportunity to close a game based on merit,” Hurdle said. “Based on what he’s earned.”
Cole pitched a career-high eight innings and allowed one run on six hits. He walked one and struck out six. He made one mistake, an 0-1 fastball in the eighth that Mark Reynolds hit over the wall in right-center field, Reynolds’ second home run in two games.
Other than that, Cole was stellar, rebounding from two so-so starts. He had a good slider, his two-seam fastball was moving and he kept his fastball down in the strike zone.
“Chris [Stewart] and I were on the same page,” Cole said of himself and the backup catcher, making his Pirates debut. “Just trying to put the ball on the ground, moving it inside, outside.”
Neil Walker scored the game’s first run on a solo home run that cleared the seats in right field, his sixth of the season, in the fourth inning.
That was the only mistake Brewers starter Marco Estrada made. He allowed one run on six hits in six innings and struck out four without a walk.
The Pirates begin a four-game series today at home against the Cincinnati Reds. They visit the Brewers May 13.
“It’s like a band of brothers out there,” Martin said. “You’re going to protect your own guy. But there’s certain rules of combat that apply that didn’t seem to apply for certain players on the other team.”
Bill Brink: email@example.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published April 20, 2014 6:12 PM