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Brewers swept by last place Pirates

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McClatchy Tribune
August 20, 2009
— The Milwaukee Brewers no longer can look at playing last-place teams as the easy part of their schedule.

For those woeful clubs, the Brewers have become the easy part of their schedule.


The Brewers’ second-half slide hit a new low Wednesday night when they fell in meek fashion, 3-1, at PNC Park to get swept in the three-game series by the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates.


Never mind that the Pirates had lost 12 of 13 and 18 of 22 entering the series while showing all the punch of a sick kitten. The only thing more alarming than how badly the Brewers have fared since July 1 is the level of competition that has throttled them.


“You can’t take nothing for granted,” said centerfielder Mike Cameron. “You can’t take no team lightly. As much as you hate to say it, the Pirates played better.


“We feel like we, as a unit, we’re a much better team than we’ve shown the last few days. Crazy things happen at times in the game, but we expect to beat certain teams. We should expect to compete and win all the time.”


Cameron chose his words carefully, but you got the impression he wanted to shout out, “How could we get swept by that awful team?”


The same way the Brewers have lost four of six to San Diego, split four games at home against Washington and, now, dropped five of six to Pittsburgh since the all-star break. Since July 1, the Brewers have lost 27 of 43 games while winning two of 13 series.


In getting outscored by the Pirates, 17-8, the Brewers fell four games below .500 (58-62) for the first time since they were 5-9 on April 22. All of this losing has come while playing the weakest part of their schedule, with a daunting slate around the corner in September.


So, what possible hope can there be for a team that fell out of the National League Central race at a time when it should have been cruising against weak competition?


“Things haven’t gone our way,” said right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who has become accustomed to losing games in which he made few mistakes.


“It was a bad three-game series for us. There’s a month and a couple of weeks left in the season. We’ve got to turn it around.”


In essence, the game was lost for Gallardo on one pitch. With a runner on second and two outs in the bottom of the second inning, Gallardo hung a 2-0 slider to No. 8 hitter Ronny Cedeno, who socked his second homer of the series.


With pitcher Paul Maholm on deck, Gallardo knew he made an egregious error.


“You can’t do that with the hitter in front of the pitcher, make a mistake like that,” said Gallardo, who allowed only four hits and three runs in six innings.


“That’s something on my part that’s not very smart.”


Cedeno’s homer was the difference because the Brewers mustered few threats against Maholm, who was 0-3 with a 7.42 ERA in his previous five starts. They grounded into double plays three times in the first five innings and didn’t get a runner past first base until the sixth.


The Brewers had two chances to literally knock Maholm out of the game, but he kept plugging along. Cameron hit a liner high off Maholm’s pitching arm in the fourth inning and Alcides Escobar smoked a one-hopper off his left shin in the eighth.


Both times, not only did Maholm stay in the game but the batters were retired. Cameron’s shot caromed to second baseman Delwyn Young, who threw to first, and Maholm scrambled to retrieve the ball and throw out Escobar.


“It’s crazy,” said Cameron. “It (stinks) to lose a series against the Pirates.”


Considering what has transpired since the all-star break, it certainly was no solace that the Brewers headed off to play another last-place team, the Nationals.


“We also are a team under .500,” said manager Ken Macha. “That’s what we are right now.”


In other words, the Nationals will be just as happy to see the Brewers as vice versa. Actually, at this point, probably more so.



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