PITTSBURGH (AP) Chad Kuhl's long climb back to the starting rotation is complete. Kuhl pitched five effective innings for his first win in more than two years, and the Pittsburgh Pirates rolled by the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2 on Friday night.
Kuhl (1-1) gave up a long solo home run to Ben Gamel in the second but otherwise kept the Brewers at bay to pick up his first victory since June 15, 2018. The right-hander missed the second half of 2018 and all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He made the team this year as a reliever before being thrust back into the rotation due to a slew of injuries.
''Big league wins are hard to come by and it's really cool, just to get my team a chance to win, that's all I ever wanted,'' said Kuhl, who threw 84 pitches in his longest outing since his return.
The Pirates backed Kuhl with a 14-hit attack after managing five runs total during a four-game slide. Bryan Reynolds had three hits and four RBIs, and Colin Moran and Cole Tucker also had three hits apiece.
Reynolds hit a solo homer off Adrian Houser (1-2) in the second and a two-run double in the eighth to give Pittsburgh's shaky bullpen plenty of cushion.
''Tonight felt really good,'' Reynolds said after lifting his average from .174 to .205. ''I think we're on the right track. I'm not going to say that anything's cleared up yet, but tonight's definitely moving in the right direction.''
Christian Yelich hit his seventh home run for the Brewers, but Milwaukee managed just five hits against Kuhl and five relievers. The Brewers have dropped three of four since taking three of four from NL Central-leading Chicago last weekend.
''These are our guys and we have to stay the course with them,'' Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. ''But we've got some guys, who, through the course of the year, just haven't gotten going.''
Houser, who limited the Pirates to one run in five innings on July 27, wasn't quite as efficient this time. He ran into trouble in the fourth when the Pirates turned five singles into three runs, helped by a rushed throw from Milwaukee shortstop Orlando Arcia that allowed runners to advance. Houser ended up working seven innings, allowing four runs and nine hits.
THE BIG 5-0
Counsell celebrated his 50th birthday on Friday. The team ''celebrated'' by waking him up just past midnight while in the middle of the flight from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh.
''It was actually how I knew I was 50 because I was really tired and felt old and half asleep by midnight,'' Counsell said.
The team put together a star-studded video that included players like Hall of Famer Jim Thome and longtime major league pitcher C.C. Sabathia and friends wishing him well. The Pirates ran the video on the left-field scoreboard during Milwaukee's batting practice.
The Pirates are in the midst of a franchise-wide reboot that's begun with a thud. The team has the worst record in the majors as the trade deadline approaches. First-year general manager Ben Cherington finds himself in a tight spot. The team has put a premium on acquiring more talent, but what trade chips the Pirates have (namely outfielder Gregory Polanco, who entered Friday hitting .070 on the season) are struggling.
''There's no one player that you know we can't talk about,'' Cherington said. ''There's no one player that we need to move either.''
Brewers: OF Avisail Garcia got the day off. Counsell pointed to Garcia's heavy workload since veteran Lorenzo Cain opted out of the 2020 season as the main reason to let Garcia - hitting .208 over the last week - sit.
Pirates: RHP Keone Kela left just five pitches into his third appearance of the season due to right forearm tightness. Pirates manager Derek Shelton said the move was made out of an abundance of caution. Pittsburgh currently has five relievers on the injured list. ... RHP Kyle Crick (right shoulder/lat strain) threw another bullpen session on Friday and could be nearing his return. Crick last pitched on July 27.
Brewers: Josh Lindblom (1-0, 6.62 ERA) faces the Pirates for the second time this season when he takes the hill on Saturday. Lindblom allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings against Pittsburgh on July 28.
Pirates: Derek Holland (0-1, 7.36 ERA) will make his 300th major league appearance in the second game of the three-game set.
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