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Pittsburgh at Milwaukee

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Pittsburgh (65-94)0001000000192
Milwaukee (88-71) «0010000004590

Braun's walk-off slam helps Brewers keep pace

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MILWAUKEE -- That slashing swing and those 450-foot drives in batting practice tell Brewers interim manager Dale Sveum that Ryan Braun's ribs can't be bothering him that much.

Braun tells a slightly different story, but the slugger isn't using a lingering injury to his rib cage muscles as an excuse for an extended September slump. And after hitting a 10th-inning grand slam to beat Pittsburgh 5-1 Thursday night and keep the Brewers tied atop the NL wild-card race, he might not need to.

"This is the most frustrating thing I've ever been through as a baseball player," Braun said. "I'd never make an excuse to try to justify my performance but just physically, I've been unable to do what I've been used to doing."

Until the Brewers needed it most.

Milwaukee went into the 10th tied 1-1 and their fellow wild-card contenders, the New York Mets, having already had beaten the Chicago Cubs. The Brewers loaded the bases with two out to bring up Braun, who was 0-for-4 in the game and hitting just above .200 in September.

Braun clobbered a 2-2 pitch from reliever Jesse Chavez (0-1) deep to left field, holding up his bat and hollering at the Brewers' dugout as he began to circle the bases -- celebrating the first grand slam of his career and the Brewers' first grand slam this year as a team.

"There's no better feeling in the world than a walk-off home run -- especially based on the situation that we're in," Braun said.

Sveum attributed Braun's struggles to the pressure of a playoff race more than the injury.

"Sometimes, you've got to realize that a young man like that's never gone through any adversity in his life as an athlete," Sveum said. "That guy hit in little league, he hit in high school, he hit in college, he hit in pro ball, he hit in the big leagues. And then you're thrown into the spot and sometimes, people struggle."

Mitch Stetter (3-1) earned the victory after pitching out of a jam in the 10th.

Despite their slides in September, Braun and the Brewers have three games left against the Chicago Cubs with a playoff spot on the line.

And if they do make it, they might have an unexpected ace up their sleeve: pitcher Yovani Gallardo.

Making his first start since tearing a knee ligament May 1, Gallardo pitched only four innings but made them count. The Brewers' promising 22-year-old right-hander struck out seven while giving up a run and three hits.

"It's great," Gallardo said. "I spent four months watching this team go at it every day. And it hasn't changed. They still go out there, play hard every day, and they're going to find a way to get it done."

Gallardo cruised through the first three innings as Milwaukee took a 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Bill Hall, then appeared to run out of gas in the fourth, giving up a one-out homer to Steve Pearce that tied the game.

"I am sure he did a lot of work to get where he's at," Pearce said. "Kudos to him. Good job. He looked great out there."

Expected to be the Brewers' No. 2 starter behind Ben Sheets this season, Gallardo made only three starts before tearing a ligament in his right knee while trying to hurdle a baserunner against the Cubs on May 1.

Gallardo also had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee just before spring training, but said he didn't have any concerns about returning so quickly.

"They wouldn't be throwing me out there to pitch if everything wasn't the way it's supposed to be," he said.

Gallardo's return trumped a strong outing by Pirates starter Zach Duke, who held the Brewers to a run and seven hits in seven innings.

"He threw the ball really well," Pirates manager John Russell said. "It's a big reason I sent him back out for the extra inning. It was a 1-1 game, and I really was trying to get him a win there."

Pittsburgh threatened to take the lead in the ninth, but reliever Salomon Torres got pinch hitter Doug Mientkiewicz to fly out with runners at first and second.

Notes

  • Pirates OF Brandon Moss will have left knee surgery next Friday that is expected to keep him out until early next spring, general manager Neal Huntington said. The procedure will address a lack of cartilage in the knee, which is causing two bones to rub together. "This is a relatively minor injury," Huntington said. "We're expecting a full recovery."
  • After a bullpen session, Brewers RHP Ben Sheets said his ability to start against the Cubs on Saturday is "up in the air."
  • Brewers RHP Eric Gagne bought 5,000 unsold tickets to Thursday's game and gave them away on the Brewers' website. They were gone in 20 minutes.
  • Pirates LF Nyjer Morgan left the game with a mild left hamstring strain in the first inning.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Ryan Braun gets a hero's welcome, getting carried off the field after his game-winning grand slam.  (AP)
Ryan Braun gets a hero's welcome, getting carried off the field after his game-winning grand slam. (AP)

Players of the Game
Milwaukee

R. Braun
AB 5
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 4
Pittsburgh

Z. Duke
IP 7.0
H 7
ER 1
BB 0
K 2
 
Pittsburgh Pirates
Nyjer Morgan, LF1010000 .294
    Jason Michaels, PR-LF4010012 .225
Freddy Sanchez, 2B5010013 .266
Nate McLouth, CF5020023 .281
Adam LaRoche, 1B4010013 .269
Steve Pearce, RF4111023 .229
Andy LaRoche, 3B3000101 .165
Ronny Paulino, C4010011 .214
Brian Bixler, SS2000110 .157
   a- Doug Mientkiewicz, PH1000002 .276
    Luis Cruz, SS0000000 .211
Zach Duke, P2010111 .158
    Tyler Yates, P0000000 .000
    John Grabow, P0000000 .000
   b- Jack Wilson, PH1000000 .273
    Jesse Chavez, P0000000 .000
Totals36191310  
a-lined out for Bixler in the 9th
b-grounded out for Grabow in the 10th
Batting
HR - Steve Pearce (3, Gallardo)
RBI - Steve Pearce (14)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Duke-F. Sanchez, F. Sanchez-LaRoche
E - Brian Bixler (8, Throwing), Adam LaRoche (8, Misplayed grounder)
Pittsburgh Pirates
Zach Duke 7711020 4.82
Tyler Yates 1000030 4.79
John Grabow 1000010 2.92
Jesse Chavez (L,0-1) 0.2244211 6.91
IBB - Durham by Jesse Chavez
Pitches-Strikes - Zach Duke 103-73, Tyler Yates 11-9, John Grabow 10-7, Jesse Chavez 24-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Zach Duke 11-7, John Grabow 1-1, Jesse Chavez 1-0
Batters Faced - Zach Duke 27, Tyler Yates 3, John Grabow 3, Jesse Chavez 6
Milwaukee Brewers
Mike Cameron, CF5110032 .240
Bill Hall, 3B4021010 .227
   a- Craig Counsell, PH0100100 .227
Ryan Braun, LF5114012 .286
Prince Fielder, 1B4020000 .276
J.J. Hardy, SS4000001 .286
Corey Hart, RF4000011 .270
Rickie Weeks, 2B4110002 .234
Jason Kendall, C3020000 .250
Yovani Gallardo, P1000010 .111
    Carlos Villanueva, P1000000 .118
    Eric Gagne, P0000000 .000
   b- Joe Dillon, PH1000001 .216
    Guillermo Mota, P0000000 .000
    Brian Shouse, P0000000 .000
    Salomon Torres, P0000000 .000
    Todd Coffey, P0000000 .000
    Mitch Stetter, P0000000 .000
   c- Ray Durham, PH0100100 .287
Totals3659527  
a-walked for Hall in the 10th
b-grounded out for Gagne in the 7th
c-was walked intentionally for Stetter in the 10th
Batting
2B - Bill Hall (22, Duke)
HR - Ryan Braun (36, J. Chavez)
SH - Jason Kendall (6)
RBI - Bill Hall (55), Ryan Braun 4 (104)
2-OUT RBI - Bill Hall (22), Ryan Braun 4 (35)
CS - Corey Hart (7, 2nd base by Duke/Paulino)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Hall-Weeks-Fielder, Weeks-Hardy-Fielder, Shouse-Fielder
Milwaukee Brewers
Yovani Gallardo 4311271 1.88
Carlos Villanueva 2200010 4.07
Eric Gagne 1000110 5.44
Guillermo Mota 0.1100000 4.11
Brian Shouse 0.2100000 2.81
Salomon Torres 1100000 3.15
Todd Coffey 0.2100000 4.50
Mitch Stetter (W,3-1) 0.1000010 3.24
Pitches-Strikes - Yovani Gallardo 67-40, Carlos Villanueva 21-16, Eric Gagne 16-8, Guillermo Mota 10-9, Brian Shouse 1-4, Salomon Torres 13-8, Todd Coffey 8-4, Mitch Stetter 6-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Yovani Gallardo 1-3, Carlos Villanueva 2-2, Eric Gagne 1-1, Guillermo Mota 1-0, Todd Coffey 2-0
Batters Faced - Yovani Gallardo 16, Carlos Villanueva 7, Eric Gagne 4, Guillermo Mota 2, Brian Shouse 2, Salomon Torres 4, Todd Coffey 3, Mitch Stetter 1
Game Information
Attendance - 40102
Game Time - 3:06
Temperature - 69
Umpires - Home - Eric Cooper, First Base - Angel Hernandez, Second Base - Marty Foster, Third Base - Derryl Cousins