The Milwaukee Brewers are playing so well right now that the team is finding new ways to win.
Stymied by Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton for seven innings, the Brewers used a wild pitch to help tie the game in the eighth inning and then a game-ending sacrifice fly to grab a 2-1 win in 10 innings over the struggling Pirates and a series sweep.
Jose Veras relieved Morton with a runner on second in the eighth inning and retired Casey McGehee on a flyout. Joel Hanrahan was then brought in and struck out Nyjer Morgan, but the ball bounced away from catcher Michael McKenry and Morgan reached first base. Hanrahan was charged with a wild pitch on the play.
Ryan Braun then singled up the middle to score pinch runner Jerry Hairston Jr. to tie the game 1-1. Hanrahan was able to get Prince Fielder to fly out to end the inning.
"That was a huge break for us," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "When things are going great for a team, you seem to get a lot of these types of breaks."
With one out in the 10th inning, George Kottaras singled to left field and Casey McGehee followed with a double. Morgan then hit the first pitch from Chris Resop (3-4) to deep right field and Kottaras scored easily for the win.
The Brewers lead the Central Division by five games over the St. Louis Cardinals and have a 25-9 record since July 6, which is the best in the Major Leagues. The team is now 19 games over .500 for the first time since September 12, 2008.
Braun said the Brewers have confidence they will find a way to win close games.
"We've been finding different ways to win all season, but this one was one of the most unconventional," he said. "We have a lot of confidence that someone will step up and make a difference."
That person Sunday was Morgan, who hustled to first on the wild pitch and then hit the game-winning sacrifice fly.
"I was just trying to get a pitch to hit to the outfield," said Morgan, who admitted he almost forgot to run to first base on his sacrifice fly. "I was so fired up I didn't run at first, until I heard my teammates yelling at me to get to first."
The Brewers have now won all eight games against the Pirates this season and 12 straight over the last two years at Miller Park. The last time the Pirates won at Miller Park was April 28, 2010. The Pirates have won just two of the team's last 36 games in Milwaukee.
Takashi Saito (3-1) got the win for the Brewers as he pitched a scoreless 10th inning.
Shawn Marcum was solid for the Brewers as he gave us just one run and five hits in 7 2-3 innings. He struck out five and walked two batters.
Morton gave up one run and four hits in 7 1-3 innings. He was charged with a run in the eighth inning, ending his 24 innings scoreless streak. Morton struck out five and walked two.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said the wild pitch was an unfortunate mistake.
"It was a great pitch and unfortunately and, as good as our catcher has been, at blocking balls, it was probably wasn't the textbook way to go at that one," he said. "We had the right guy in, the situation presented itself, we moved on it and it didn't work out."
The Pirates grabbed the lead in the first inning on Andrew McCutchen's RBI double.
Morton dominated the Brewers through the first five innings. After getting a double play to end the second inning, he retired eight of the next nine batters. The only player to reach base was Yuniesky Betancourt, who singled to open the fifth inning. But Betancourt was thrown out at second by McKenry on a failed hit and run.
NOTES: Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks took groundballs before the game. Weeks has been on the disabled list since severely spraining his left ankle July 27. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Weeks looked good, but he did not have a timetable for his return. ... Brewers LHP Randy Wolf (9-8) will pitch the opener of the Brewers home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday. Wolf has won his last three starts with a 2.57 ERA. He will be opposed by the Dodgers' Ted Lilly (7-12). ... Morton got his second hit of the season in the third inning, lining a double over Morgan's head. Both of his hits this season have been doubles.