Pirates rally, hand Brewers 9th straight loss
The Brewers, stuck in their longest slide since losing 10 straight late in the 2006 season, couldn’t blame this one on Trevor Hoffman. He’s sitting out the two-game series as he sorts out his season-long struggles that include losing a ninth-inning lead Tuesday in Cincinnati.
This one got away from Milwaukee well before the ninth inning.
The NL Central rivals played in Pittsburgh for the first time since Milwaukee’s 20-0 win April 22 – the worst loss in Pirates history – ended a three-game sweep in which the Brewers outscored the Pirates 36-1. The Brewers followed that with a 17-3 win over Pittsburgh at home on April 26, but the Pirates have since beaten them three consecutive times.
Brewers starter Randy Wolf was 7-0 with a 2.72 ERA in his previous 12 starts against the Pirates but, with the Brewers bullpen in disarray, might have been left in an inning too long. Wolf (3-4) couldn’t hold a 4-3 lead in the seventh as Garrett Jones and Doumit chased him with RBI singles ahead of Pearce’s run-scoring single against reliever Todd Coffey.
Wolf appeared to be struggling when he walked Andy LaRoche and Ronny Cedeno to load the bases in the sixth, but got out of the inning when pinch-hitter Jeff Clement popped out.
Wolf, who threw 118 pitches before being lifted, immediately got into trouble in the seventh by allowing Lastings Milledge’s leadoff single, and he walked Andrew McCutchen one batter later.
Javier Lopez (1-0) retired the only two batters he faced for the victory.
Octavio Dotel pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 11 opportunities as the Pirates worked a variation of the hidden ball play. Ryan Braun stole second as Prince Fielder struck out, but was deked into taking a couple of steps toward third only to have Andy LaRoche – who already had the ball secured in his glove – tag him out.
The Pirates, 16-6 when they score the first run, took a 2-0 lead in the second on the first of Pearce’s two doubles, a LaRoche RBI grounder and Cedeno’s sacrifice fly.
Braun’s RBI double and Fielder’s run-scoring single tied it in the fourth against Brian Burres, but the Pirates starter helped himself with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the inning. The Brewers tied it again in the sixth on Casey McGehee’s ninth homer, but stranded two runners that inning after leaving three on the inning before.
The Brewers left the bases loaded again in the seventh when Lopez struck out Jody Gerut, and they stranded 10 overall.
NOTES: Pirates reliever Brendan Donnelly (left rib cage muscle strain) is expected to be activated off the DL on Thursday. ... Milwaukee has been outscored 68-31 during its losing streak. ... Wolf is 8-2 in 15 starts against the Pirates. ... Wolf, who gave up six runs and 10 hits, surrendered at least four earned runs for the fifth time in eighth starts.