Backup catcher Perez’s 3 HRs help Pirates beat Brewers 8-7

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PITTSBURGH — Backup catcher Michael Perez hit three homers, rookies Oneil Cruz and Jack Suwinski hit back-to-back, and the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 8-7 Thursday night.

It was the first multi-homer game of Perez’s five-year career. He also doubled his overall home run of the season.

Perez hit with a two-run blaster in the fourth inning ahead of Brent Suter (1-2) to break a 3-3 tie. The backup catcher added another two-run homer in the sixth to make it 6-4 before connecting again for a solo shot in the eighth to increase the lead to 8-4.

The outbreak came a day after the Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds won a game by three homers in Washington.

Perez went 4 for 5 to set a career-high for hits and take his batting average to a .169. He finished with five RBIs as the Pirates ended their eight-game losing streak against Milwaukee that dated back to last season.

The Brewers hit three runs in the ninth inning to go 8-7. Willy Adames hit an RBI double, Rowdy Tellez drove in a run with a ground out, and Kolten Wong hit a two-out run scoring single against diving first baseman Michael Chavis.

Rookie Yerry De Los Santos then ousted closer David Bednar with runners in first and third, knocking out Luis Urias with a pop fly for his second career save, both coming in the last two days.

Cruz and Suwinski scored in the second inning to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead. They were the first Pittsburgh rookies to go back-to-back since Brandon Moss and Andy LaRoche in 2008.

Cruz’s shot was measured at 431 feet and Suwinski’s at 412. Suwinski was 2 for 3 with a step.

Pittsburgh ended June with 44 home runs, the most in a calendar month since 2007.

JT Brubaker (2-7) pitched six innings, allowing four runs and seven hits. He struck six and walked two.

Andrew McCutchen had two doubles on his three hits while driving in two runs but couldn’t stop the NL Central-leading Brewers’ four-game winning streak. The 2013 NL MVP has hit .350 in his last 22 games after slipping 1:40.

Wong, Christian Yelich and Jace Peterson each added two hits for Milwaukee. Adames drove in two heats.

Brewers starter Adrian Houser exited the game with a tight right elbow in the third inning. He was charged with three runs in 2 1/3 innings.

After leading Daniel Vogelbach with an out, Houser was visited at the mound by manager Craig Counsell and an athletic trainer. Houser then left after a brief chat and was succeeded by Suter.

Houser has been struggling for the past few weeks. Prior to Thursday, he had gone 1-4 with a 6.54 ERA in his last six starts. He’s 4-8 with a 4.72 ERA overall this season.

After the Pirates took a 3-0 lead on consecutive homers ahead of Houser, the Brewers rallied to level the score. Yelich tripled a run home and hit Adames’ groundout in the third inning, and Omar Narvaez hit an RBI double in the fourth.

Perez’s first homer gave the Pirates a definitive lead, and his second, from Jason Alexander, gave them a cushion after Luis Urias’ groundout in the sixth put the Brewers on a run. Perez then put the capper on his big game by connecting against Jandel Gustave.

All three home runs were carried into the right field grandstands.

Brewers: Rookie LHP Aaron Ashby (left forearm infection) is on course to be activated from the injured list to start against the Pirates on Saturday. … CF Jonathan Davis (back/ribs) was not in the lineup after making a spectacular dive catch in a win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday. He was available from the bank in an emergency.

Pirates: INF/OF Tucupita Marcano was activated by the COVID-19 IL and INF Yu Chang was drafted after hitting a .167 on a home run in 18 games. … Bednar did not serve on Saturday due to lower back stiffness.

Brewers: RHP Corbin Burnes (6-4, 2:41) starts Friday night. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner has won his last three starts with a 2.18 ERA.

Pirates: RHP Roansy Contreras (2-1, 2.76) has the best ERA in the major leagues among rookies who have made at least seven starts this season.

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