Alcides Escobar's go-ahead, two-run triple tied up Pirates right fielder Lastings Milledge as part of a six-run scoring burst that gave the Brewers a 7-2 win at Miller Park on Friday in the opener of a three-game series.
As usual, it was a game of breaks. The Brewers got a bad one in the sixth inning, when first base umpire Chad Fairchild called out Ryan Braun on a close play that, had the call gone the other way, would have given the Brewers a 2-2 tie. An inning later, karma paid the Brewers back. Milledge lost Escobar's go-ahead hit in the lights -- and the Brewers' game-breaking rally was on.
"I tried to put the ball in play and make good contact," Escobar said.
Was he surprised Milledge didn't catch it?
"Yeah," Escobar said. "When I hit the ball, I thought, 'He's got it.' Then he turned around and lost the ball, and I ran."
The Pirates lost their 11th straight road game. The Brewers snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 44-17 against Pittsburgh since the start of 2007 -- by far their best mark against any opponent in that span.
The first six innings featured a pitching duel between Brewers left-hander Chris Narveson (10-7) and Pirates right-hander James McDonald (2-4). Narveson became the Brewers' third 10-game winner, working seven innings and holding Pittsburgh to two runs on seven hits -- with eight strikeouts and only one walk. He delivered just the fourth seven-inning start by a Brewers pitcher since the All-Star break.
It was a much better night than Narveson's first appearance on the homestand, when Narveson's command escaped him in the fourth inning of a Saturday loss to the Padres.
"It was just execution," Narveson said of the difference. "I know there have been times where you have mental lapses and you're not executing the pitches you want. I just tried to continue to [focus] throughout the game and it helped me."
McDonald was charged with six runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, an ugly line for a pitcher who sparkled in the early innings.
McDonald had allowed only one hit through the first five innings -- Escobar's harmless single in the third -- but found himself in trouble in the sixth after Jonathan Lucroy led off with a double.
Three batters later, Corey Hart put the Brewers on the board with an RBI single that pushed Rickie Weeks to third base, representing the tying run. Braun hit a bouncer right up the middle to Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno, who gobbled it up and shoveled the ball to second baseman Neil Walker. Walker relayed to first, making it a race between the baseball and Braun.
Fairchild signaled the inning-ending out, to Braun's dismay. Subsequent television replays showed Braun was right; he took one last big stride toward first base and appeared to step on it before the baseball was in Garrett Jones' glove.
"Willie [Randolph, the Brewers' bench coach] went up and looked at it. It was bang-bang," manager Ken Macha said. "He was probably safe."
The disappointment didn't last long, because the Brewers broke through an inning later. Prince Fielder led off the seventh with a walk and Chris Dickerson hit a one-out single to bring up Escobar -- whose line drive to right field proved a tough read for Milledge. The outfielder went back to his right, then twisted left too late. Escobar was credited with a go-ahead triple and the Brewers led, 3-2.
"I looked up at the last minute and the lights got in my face," Milledge said. "That's a play that I make every day of the week. Unfortunately, I didn't make the play. It cost us big. I make that play in my back pocket every day of the week.
"I made a good break on it, and it was tailing a little bit. I put my head down and adjusted myself and then I looked back up and I lost it. That's why I turned the wrong way."
The Brewers added on. Lucroy blooped an RBI single. Hart delivered an RBI double, and Braun followed with a two-run double that made it 7-2.
"They're one of the best hitting teams in all of baseball anyway. Just one play is all they need," Milledge said. "We were still in the game, only one run down, and they just took it over the top."
Escobar also turned in a defensive play in the top of the sixth inning worthy of the highlight reel. With Jose Tabata at first base, the rookie shortstop ranged into center field for Walker's fly ball and made a tremendous over-the-shoulder catch. Escobar whirled immediately and fired to first to double-up the runner.
"That was a nice, highlight play by Escobar," Macha said. "They got a base hit, he made that play and then they got another base hit. That could have ended up being a big inning for them."
Escobar said it was no big deal. He made a similar play during the Venezuelan Winter League, he told reporters with a shrug.
Narveson had a different view. He called the play "huge" and "unbelievable."
"When he hit it, I knew it was going to be in that Bermuda Triangle out there," Narveson said. "When I saw where Dickerson was, I thought the only guy who was going to get to it would be Escobar. It didn't even look like he was looking at the ball, so I didn't know if he'd have a chance at it. To catch, turn and double him off, that was an unbelievable play."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.