Man, Milwaukee is desperate to get back on the winning track. In the first inning, with Andrew McCutchen and Delwyn Young on second and thrid with no one away, Garrett Jones popped to short on the first pitch.
Then Kenny Macha put on his thinking cap and walked Andy LaRoche intentionally to load the sacks, despite his 3-for-23 slump. Nothin' like tempting fate early. But hey, it worked.
Ryan Doumit got behind 0-2, and ended his at-bat with a one hop, 5-4-3 DP. A couple of minutes later, Prince Fielder came up with two on and one out and launched a hanging curve into the seats. It got worse.
A couple of ground ball singles, a walk on a check swing that was borderline, a shortarm effort on a force toss by Young to Luis Cruz...ugh. It was ugly. 41 Zach Duke pitches, seven hits, a walk, and it was 5-0 before the beer got warm.
The game started with a team that was down having a heel on their throat, and jsut like that, the worm had turned.
Manny Parra tried to give it all back the next inning, but the Bucs refused to bite. A single and two walks followed by a McCutchen double cut it to 5-2, but with runners on second and third and one out, Young flew to short center and Jones whiffed on a big roundhouse curve after swinging at a couple of balls out of the zone.
Jason Bourgeois opened the second with his first MLB home run, but the Pirates answered with two more in the third on a Steve Pearce one-out double. He was, of course, left there, but they had chipped into the lead, making it 6-4 after 2-1/2 innings. And that's with leaving the bases juiced, runners at second and third, and a guy on second, all with one out and all stranded.
The Brew Crew got another with three straight hits to start the third, but a nice play on a bunt by Pearce and a 5-4-3 DP limited the damage to a run. But that was it for the Zachster. He left after three innings, giving up seven runs on eleven hits with a walk.
Not that the difference was immediately apparent. Ryan Braun, the second batter Chris Bootcheck faced, went yard.
But the Pirates refused to go gently into the good night. Brian Bixler roped a pinch-hit double, and McCutch blasted one into the second deck in left, cutting the lead to 8-6 in the sixth.
McCutchen's tenth dinger would prove to be a double-edged sword. The sixth would be the last inning that the Bucs would get to swat around Manny Parra. And with Duke and Parra out, the second half of the game quieted down. It all boiled down to starting pitching, and for the first time in a while, the Bucs came up short.
The Brewers didn't score after the fourth, nor did the Pirates after the McCutchen blast. So it's 19 losses in a row at Milwaukee. And it was all decided in the first inning, when Jones popped out and Macha rolled the dice.
-- Ryan Doumit didn't come out for the fifth inning. He wasn't hurt; JR just sat him down. It'll be interesting to find out what that's all about.
-- Ronny Cedeno missed tonight with his broken pinkie; still no word on his expected return date. It could be soon; the papers say it doesn't bother his throwing as much as it does his ability to catch the ball. He's 2-for-3 as a pinch hitter since the injury, so it's apparently not affecting his stroke.