Ransom gives Brewers grand start to second half

> The Brewers have a very crucial stretch of games coming up. Their next nine games are against division opponents, and this will definitely determine if the Brewers are indeed sellers for the first time in the Mark Attanasio era, or if they can come back and at least contend.

> They certainly started that stretch in a good way tonight. They defeated the first place Pirates, 10-7, in a back-and-forth slugfest that was expected to be a pitchers’ duel. There were a ton of storylines behind this game, so let’s start with a few of them.

Zack Greinke didn’t have a start to remember, but he will remember it. This was his third consecutive start, as he got ejected by Sam Holbrook in the first inning two games before the All-Star break, then started the next day as well. He became the first pitcher since Red Faber of the White Sox in 1917 to accomplish this feat.

Like I said, it wasn’t very special otherwise- he went five innings while giving up six runs (five earned) on seven hits. He walked two and struck out six. But, the Miller Park magic once again came into effect, and Greinke’s home record remains perfect.

His counterpart, James McDonald, didn’t do so well either. He couldn’t even make it out of the fifth inning, going just 4 2/3 innings while giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits. He also walked five, which contributed to his pitch count of 109 in the short outing.

The Brewers put up a three-spot in the first inning. Ryan Braun hit a solo shot, followed by a Rickie Weeks two-run double to start the second half with a bang. But the wheels fell off for Greinke a few innings later. The Pirates got a run in the third thanks to a Weeks error with bases loaded, then they took the lead in the fourth on Drew Sutton’s RBI double and Neil Walker’s go-ahead three-run homer. Braun got the Brewers a run back in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single, but Pedro Alvarez made the deficit 6-4 in the fifth with a solo shot.

Then the comeback trail began. Travis Ishikawa hit a pinch-hit RBI single in the fifth, then Braun tied the game up in the sixth with his second home run of the night.

The Brewers managed to come full circle in the eighth inning and finally take the lead. Braun and Aramis Ramirez hit back-to-back singles with one out. Corey Hart then struck out, but the Brewers pulled a double steal on the pitch. That prompted Pirates reliever Tony Watson to intentionally walk Weeks, which was surprising, unless you consider Cody Ransom was coming up next.

But, boy, did Ransom make them pay. All the Brewers would have needed was a little bloop single, which are usually what Ransom’s hits are like when he isn’t striking out. Instead, Ransom smashed a line drive in to deep left field for a go-ahead grand slam. I can tell you honestly that it was the craziest Miller Park had been since October of last year; I was at the game.

Andrew McCutchen hit a solo home run in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough for the Pirates.

> Even though the Brewers won this game, I’m still worried about Axford. He did get a save the other day, but was shaky. And now he gives up another home run tonight. If the Brewers truly want to contend in the second half, they’re going to have to find out what’s wrong with Axford (and the rest of the ‘pen for that matter).

> And that’s already about it. I got home late from the game, so I don’t have much time right now. But, for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

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