MILWAUKEE — Brandon Woodruff pitched seven shutout innings and Mark Canha’s two-run single capped a six-run fifth inning as the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3 on Tuesday night.
Woodruff (4-1) allowed just two hits, singles to Ji Hwan Bae in the first inning and Endy Rodriguez in the fifth. Woodruff also had six strikeouts and two walks while improving to 14-3 with a 2.36 ERA in his last 29 starts dating to last season.
“I thought it was a good outing and that he got stronger as the game went on and then really got on cruise control and every pitch started working well,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Just a great outing.”
Coming off back-to-back losses, the Brewers entered the night 2 1/2 games ahead of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central race.
Woodruff missed nearly four months with right shoulder inflammation before returning Aug. 6. He is beginning to feel comfortable again after making six starts.
“I expect to go out there and pitch well but coming off this injury it’s a weird deal where I expect to go out there and perform yet not have many expectations because I don’t have a full season to work with,” Woodruff said. “I’m trying to go out there and have fun and go pitch to pitch. I’m kind of just working inning to inning so far. Thankfully, it’s working out so far.”
Connor Joe broke up the Brewers’ shutout bid by hitting a three-run home run in the ninth inning off Clayton Andrews for just his second hit in his last 29 at-bats. The Pirates had runners on first and second with two outs but Elvis Peguero got Miguel Andujar to hit a game-ending ground out.
Andre Jackson (1-2) was charged with six runs in 4 1/3 innings and walked five as the Pirates lost for just the second time in eight games.
The Brewers broke a scoreless tie with a run in the fourth on a double-play grounder by Canha after Jackson walked the bases loaded.
Milwaukee extended its lead to 7-0 with the big fifth inning.
Andruw Monasterio drove in the first run with a triple to the 410-foot mark in left-center. Brice Turang hit an RBI single, Christian Yelich lofted a sacrifice fly and Carlos Santana doubled in a run before Canha delivered his two-run single to left field.
“As a hitter, you’re waiting for the pitch to make a mistake and he made one to me,” Monasterio said. “We started hitting mistakes in that inning. When you do that, you do damage at home plate.”
Jackson retired the Brewers in order in each of the first three innings before struggling in the fourth and fifth.
“Command of the zone,” Shelton said when asked what caused Jackson’s problems. “It didn’t look like the stuff ticked down a little bit. It’s just he wasn’t on the plate.”
Brewers rookie center fielder Sal Frelick had two hits. It was a bit of a homecoming for Frelick as his father Jeff’s – a former Pitt fullback -- side of the family is from nearby Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
Milwaukee’s William Contreras walked twice but went 0 for 3 to end his career-best 14-game hitting streak.
Pirates reliever Hunter Stratton pitched two scoreless innings in his major league debut. Joshua Palacios had two hits.
SKENES SHUT DOWN
The Pirates have shut down RHP Paul Skenes, the first overall pick in this year’s amateur draft, for the rest of the season at Double-A Altoona to limit his innings.
Skenes pitched 6 2/3 innings over five games at three levels of the minor leagues. That came after he logged 122 2/3 innings while leading LSU to the College World Series title earlier this year.
GM Ben Cherington said the Pirates player development made the recommendation to end Skenes’ season.
“They looked at Paul like he’s checked all the boxes that we wanted him to check post-draft as a pro in 2023,” Cherington said. “They made the recommendation of, ‘Hey, this is good. We’re good for this year. Let’s focus on a full offseason and full 2024.’”
Brewers: RHP Adrian Houser (right elbow inflammation) continues to progress in his rehab and could be activated from the injured list on Sept. 12, the first day he is eligible.
Pirates: DH Andrew McCutchen (left Achilles tightness) sat out after leaving Monday’s game early when he was injured running the bases. … SS Oneil Cruz (broken left ankle) is expected to resume his running progression this week after being shut down on Aug. 23 when he felt pain in the ankle. Cruz was injured on April 9.
Pirates: OF Cal Mitchell was outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis as he cleared waivers after being designated for assignment … RHP Yohan Ramirez was claimed by the Chicago White Sox after also being designated for assignment.
Brewers RHP Freddy Peralta (11-8, 3.85 ERA) makes his first start in September after winning NL Pitcher of the Month for August when he won all five starts with a 2.10 ERA. Rookie RHP Colin Selby (2-0, 5.79) will serve as an opener for the Pirates.