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MLB: Adrian Houser aims to send Central-leading Brewers past Pirates

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Right-hander Adrian Houser will look to keep the Milwaukee Brewers rolling on Tuesday when they face the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates in the second contest of a three-game series.

The Brewers, who lead the National League Central by 7 1/2 games, improved to 11-3 versus the Pirates this season after posting a 6-2 win on Monday night. Eduardo Escobar belted a three-run homer in the series opener to mark the second time he has gone deep in four games since being acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I don’t think it has to come in the first home game, but you want to have that game,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Escobar. “You feel like you got traded for, and it’s a good trade, and you want to contribute. He’s a good player and he has the ability to have games like that.”

Houser (7-5, 3.69 ERA) will be opposed by right-hander Max Kranick (1-2, 7.31) in a rematch from last Wednesday at Pittsburgh.

In that game, Houser allowed just two hits over five shutout innings to get the victory in Milwaukee’s 7-3 win. Kranick was tagged for six runs on 10 hits in five innings to take the loss in his lone career meeting versus the Brewers.

Milwaukee is 13-5 in games started by Houser, including wins in each of the past eight.

Houser is 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts against the Pirates this season. All told, he owns a 3-3 record with a 4.22 ERA in 10 career meetings (seven starts) versus Pittsburgh.

Kranick, who made his major-league debut on June 27, will be making his fifth big league start on Tuesday. He began the season with three starts at Double-A Altoona before advancing to Triple-A Indianapolis.

“I think we’ve said all along that there’s going to be opportunities for different guys,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “Some of these have come because of trades, some of these have come because of injuries. I don’t know if it’s a changing of the guard, but I would say, it’s more just giving guys opportunities.”

Right-hander Bryse Wilson, who was acquired from Atlanta prior to the trade deadline, took the loss in his Pirates debut Monday night. He allowed just one run on two hits in five innings.

The Brewers bullpen, however, is in a state of flux due to complications involving COVID-19.

All-Star closer Josh Hader on Monday became the latest Brewers addition to the COVID-19 injured list, joining right-handed relievers Jack Cousins, Hunter Strickland and Jandel Gustave. Outfielder Christian Yelich also is on the list after testing positive, although infielder Jace Peterson, who was on the list due to contact tracing, was reinstated Monday.

The Brewers bullpen was bolstered, however, by the recent acquisitions of right-hander John Curtiss from Miami and left-hander Daniel Norris from Detroit. Milwaukee also called up veteran lefty Blaine Hardy from Triple-A Nashville and acquired right-hander John Axford in a minor-league deal with Toronto.

Axford, who still holds the Brewers single-season save record with 46 in 2011, came on the ninth inning on Monday. He recorded just one out, hit a batter with a pitch and allowed two runs on two hits in his first MLB game since 2018.

Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl was placed on the COVID-19 injured list Monday after testing positive. Right-hander Shea Spitzbarth was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis and made his major league debut Monday, pitching a scoreless 1 1/3 innings.

–Field Level Media

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