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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.

Cole Hamels done for year after just 1 start for Braves

Cole Hamels triceps injury
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ATLANTA — After making just one start for the Atlanta Braves, Cole Hamels is done for the season.

Hamels reported shortly before the start of a four-game series against the Miami Marlins that he didn’t feel like he could get anything on the ball. The left-hander was scheduled to make his second start Tuesday after struggling throughout the year to overcome shoulder and triceps issues.

The Braves placed Hamels on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sept. 18,, but that was a mere formality. General manager Alex Anthopoulos already contacted Major League Baseball about replacing Hamels in the team’s postseason player pool.

“Cole knows himself and his body,” Anthopoulos said. “You trust the player at that point when he says he can’t go.”

The Braves began Monday with a three-game lead in the NL East .and primed for their third straight division title.

Even with that success, Atlanta has struggled throughout the shortened 60-game series to put together a consistent rotation beyond Cy Young contender Max Fried and rookie Ian Anderson.

Expected ace Mike Soroka went down with a season-ending injury, former All-Star Mike Foltynewicz was demoted after just one start, and Sean Newcomb also was sent to the alternate training site after getting hammered in his four starts.

The Braves have used 12 starters this season.

Anthopoulos had hoped to land another top starter at the trade deadline but the only deal he was able to make was acquiring journeyman Tommy Milone from the Orioles. He’s on the injured list after getting hammered in three starts for the Braves, giving up 22 hits and 16 runs in just 9 2/3 innings.

“There’s no doubt that our starting pitching has not performed to the level we wanted it to or expected it to,” Anthopoulos said. “I know that each year you never have all parts of your club firing. That’s why depth is so important.”

Hamels, who signed an $18 million, one-year contract last December, reported for spring training with a sore shoulder stemming from an offseason workout.

When camps were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hamels was able to take a more cautious approach to his rehabilitation. But a triceps issue sidelined again before the delayed start of the season in July.

The Braves hoped Hamels would return in time to provide a boost for the playoffs. He also was scheduled to start the final game of the regular season Sunday, putting him in position to join the postseason rotation behind Fried and Anderson.

Now, Hamels is done for the year, his Braves’ career possibly ending after he made that one appearance last week in Baltimore. He went 3 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits, with two strikeouts and one walk in a loss to the Orioles.

Hamels reported no problems immediately after his start, but he didn’t feel right after a bullpen session a couple of days ago.

“You’re not going to try to talk the player into it,” Anthopoulos said. “When he says he isn’t right, that’s all we need to hear.”

Atlanta recalled right-hander Bryse Wilson to replace Hamels on the 28-man roster. The Braves did not immediately name a starter for Tuesday’s game.

With Hamels out, the Braves will apparently go with Fried (7-0, 1.96), Anderson (3-1, 2.36) and Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.74) as their top three postseason starters.

Hamels is a four-time All-Star with a career record of 163-122. He starred on Philadelphia’s World Series-winning team in 2008 and also pitched for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.

Last season, Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts for the Cubs.