Home News Corbin Burnes pitches five perfect innings in win over Pirates

Corbin Burnes pitches five perfect innings in win over Pirates

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PITTSBURGH — For a while, it looked like the Brewers had provided too much run support.

In the end, it was just enough.

Corbin Burnes would never blame an over-supportive offense for what unfolded in the sixth inning of the Brewers’ 11-8 win over the Pirates on Saturday afternoon. But the fact is that Burnes looked like a different pitcher while going 15 up, 15 down in the first five innings than he did in the bottom of the sixth, when he missed the strike zone with his first seven pitches and went on to lose his bid for a perfect game, a no-hitter and a shutout in one fell swoop.

So, there was no history. But on an odd day that featured one 41-minute rain delay before the game and another, 33-minute delay in the ninth inning, there was another promising outburst for the Brewers’ resurgent offense, and, even though it got closer than desired at the end, another victory for a team that has won six of the first nine games on a long road trip that concludes in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

“I’ll never complain when we put up an 11-spot,” Burnes said.

Once he finally took the mound, Burnes began filling up the strike zone. Finally in command of all of his secondary pitches, he retired the first 15 Pirates batters on 58 pitches, 41 of them strikes, leaving him well positioned to go the distance. After the fifth, Burnes said he was well aware that a perfect game was in play.

So, while Burnes went through his usual between-innings work in the dugout, Brewers hitters kept piling on the runs. They already had a 6-0 lead thanks to a five-run second inning, during which Christian Yelich blasted a three-run home run toward the Allegheny River beyond the right-field seats. In the sixth, they added four more, the big blow this time coming from designated hitter Jesse Winker, who has four hits and five RBIs in the last three games.

As the lead grew to 10-0, Burnes waited.

“We did talk about it; you always worry about the long innings, especially as you get later into the game,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “But I mean, you’ll take the runs every single time.”

When he took the mound again, Burnes walked the Pirates’ No. 7 hitter, Jared Triolo, on four pitches. He then fell into a 3-0 count against Ji Hwan Bae and walked him, too. The perfect game was not to be.

“I lost the feel for it and it took 6-7 pitches to find it,” Burnes said. “It’s not an excuse because you have to go out there and do your job, but those two or three long innings just make the game feel a little longer when you start to fatigue just a little bit quicker because you’re sitting down between innings.”

Twenty pitches into the inning, with two outs, Brewers pitching coach Chris Hook visited the mound to give Burnes a breather. Burnes started Andrew McCutchen with consecutive strikes before appearing to dot the low inside corner with a changeup — “That was a strike,” Burnes said — but home plate umpire Junior Valentine called it ball 1. The next pitch, a cutter, struck McCutchen to load the bases for Pirates center fielder Jack Suwinski, who lined a clean two-run single to right field to deny Burnes’ bid for a no-hitter.

By the time he escaped, Burnes had thrown 33 pitches in the sixth inning alone. He missed the strike zone with only one fewer pitches in that single inning (16), as in the first five innings combined (17).

But in all, Burnes threw 99 pitches in seven sensational innings, allowing two runs on that lone Pirates hit. Burnes’ seven strikeouts were his best total in three starts.

When he departed, the Brewers had an 11-2 lead going to the eighth, but they nearly let it get away. Clayton Andrews and Bryse Wilson combined to surrender six runs in the eighth inning — five charged to Andrews over two-thirds of an inning in his Major League debut.

With the crowd into every pitch, Mother Nature forced a timeout that may have played into Milwaukee’s favor. The tarp came on the field and eventually a heavy rain came, and when play resumed in an emptied, mostly quiet stadium, Brewers reliever Joel Payamps set the Pirates down in order to seal the victory.

“It was just a long day,” Yelich said. “Kind of a wild one. It’s kind of usual for Pittsburgh, actually. Usually once a year something like this happens here. But we came out on top and did enough to win. It ended up being a good day.”

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