COVID-compromised Brewers try to bounce back vs. Pirates

MLB Baseball

Milwaukee will turn to right-hander Freddy Peralta to get back on track in the rubber game as the Brewers wrap up a three-game series at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday afternoon.

The Pirates, who overcame an early four-run deficit to rally for an 8-5 victory in 10 innings on Tuesday night, are expected to call up left-hander Steven Brault from Triple-A Indianapolis to make his first big-league start of the season.

Pittsburgh, which had lost 10 of its last 11 against Milwaukee, was held hitless for 6 1/3 innings by starter Adrian Houser on Tuesday night before erasing a 4-0 deficit with five runs in the seventh off the Brewers bullpen, which has four relievers — including All-Star closer Josh Hader — on the COVID-19 injured list.

The high-scoring loss was rare for Milwaukee, which leads the N.L. Central by 7 1/2 games. The Brewers now are 54-9 when scoring at least four runs.

Peralta (8-3, 2.17 ERA), second in the N.L. in ERA behind the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Walker Buehler, has a 1.66 ERA in his last 13 starts. He has allowed two runs or fewer in all but one start over that span, giving up three runs once. In four of those starts, Peralta did not allow a run despite pitching at least six innings.

Peralta is 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA in three starts this season vs. the Pirates. In 13 appearances (four starts) against the Pirates, he is 2-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 36 1/3 innings.

Brault, who began the season on the 60-day injured list with a left lat muscle strain, went 0-1 with a 1.42 ERA in four rehab starts with Low-A Bradenton and Triple-A Indianapolis.

He allowed one run on four hits in four innings in his last rehab start on July 29 for Indianapolis.

“He’s working on the buildup coming back,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “He’s only thrown, I think, four innings a couple times in the minor leagues, so we will continue to just gradually build him up. I think the biggest thing for Steven and for us is for him finishing the year healthy. And we will be very mindful of that as we move forward.”

Brault last pitched in a game with the Pirates on Sept. 22 of last season, allowing two hits in seven scoreless innings in a 3-2 win over the Cubs. He is 1-3 with a 3.64 ERA in 18 career appearances, including 12 starts, against the Brewers.

After Houser’s departure, the Brewers used six relievers the rest of the way Tuesday night. Deadline acquisitions Daniel Norris and John Curtiss were the victims of Pittsburgh’s five-run seventh.

Blaine Hardy (0-1), who last pitched in the majors in 2019 with Detroit and was called up from Triple-A Nashville on Sunday, pitched the 10th and took the loss in his first appearance with Milwaukee.

“It lined up the way it needed to line up, and we had guys in the right spots,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “This is our bullpen right now. We’ve been hit by COVID in the bullpen. It’s taken a pretty big chunk out of our bullpen. For the next week to 10 days, this is going to be our group. We didn’t get it done tonight, but they’ll get it done.”

In addition to Hader, who has converted 22 out of 23 save opportunities and has a 1.83 ERA, the Brewers also have relievers Jake Cousins, Hunter Strickland and Jandel Gustave on the COVID-19 list. Veteran right-hander John Axford, acquired earlier Monday in a minor league deal with Toronto, went on the 10-day IL with a right elbow injury after facing five hitters in the ninth inning of Milwaukee’s 6-2 victory.

–Field Level Media

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