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McCutchen homers, Pirates blank Brewers 5-0, end 4-game skid

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Andrew McCutchen hit his first home run of the season and Jon Niese combined with two relievers on a three-hitter as the Pittsburgh Pirates blanked the Milwaukee Brewers 5-0 on Saturday night to end their four-game losing streak.

McCutchen’s solo shot off Taylor Jungmann in the fifth inning increased the Pirates’ lead to 4-0 after they scored three runs in the fourth.

The drive to left field came in the star center fielder’s 54th plate appearance. McCutchen was so happy that he stopped in front of dugout after rounding the bases, broke into a big smile and raised his hands skyward.

Niese (2-1) won his second straight start, giving up all three hits while walking three and striking out three in seven innings. The Pirates were tagged for 30 runs during their skid. Acquired from the New York Mets in an offseason trade, the left-hander also notched a win Monday at Detroit

Tony Watson and Mark Melancon finished the shutout with one scoreless inning each. Melancon struck out the side.

Jungmann (0-2) had his road woes continue as he allowed four runs and six hits in six innings with six strikeouts and one walk. The Brewers have lost Jungmann’s last nine starts away from Milwaukee and he is 0-8 with 9.39 ERA in those games.

The Brewers (5-6) lost for the third time in four games. The Pirates (6-6) got back to .500 after winning for just the second time in eight games since beginning the season 4-0.

Last season, as a rookie, Jungmann went 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts against the Pirates.

Josh Harrison had two hits and drove in two runs for the Pirates, including an RBI triple that highlighted the three-run third and a single in the eighth that capped the scoring.

Francisco Cervelli also had two hits and leadoff hitter John Jaso extended his hitting streak to seven games with a third-inning single.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Brewers: RHP Blaine Boyer (strained neck) was available to pitch in relief after having missed a week but did not get into the game.

Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (strained right hamstring) threw in the bullpen before the game and declared himself ready to start Tuesday night at San Diego. He was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday against Detroit.

UP NEXT

Rookie Zach Davies will be recalled by the Brewers from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday to start the finale of the three-game series against Juan Nicasio (1-1, 5.00). Davies is 0-0 with a 2.00 ERA in two starts with Colorado Springs after going 3-2 with a 3.71 ERA in six starts for Milwaukee at the end of last season.

Padres fire Andy Green

Andy Green
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The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.

Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:

I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.

In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.

“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”

Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.

For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.