Santa Claus comin' to town isn't Milwaukee's favorite visitor; it has to be the Bucs, who are an early Christmas gift every visit to Miller Park.
The Brew Crew was up 4-0 after five hitters, and 6-0 after three frames. Pittsburgh banged out five runs on five extra base knocks (four after two outs) in the fifth - the first time they've done that in an inning since 2004 - to get within one at 6-5.
The Brewers came right back with a two spot in their half, a two out dinger off a Chris Resop hung curve, and that was the KO. They took home a 9-6 win.
Nah, no blow-by-blow for this one; it's too painful to type. Though the Bucs had one good frame, it was still ugly. Milwaukee had three homers, accounting for six of their runs. Pittsburgh gave up a run in the seventh when they forgot how to play throw-and-catch with the baseball. The umps were brutal again; Chris Snyder got the boot today after a beef.
And there was heartbreak. The Pirates scored a run in the ninth and had the bases juiced with one away and the heart of the order lining up to hit, setting up a rally to remember. But Jose Tabata ended it with a 6-4-3 DP. Just another day at Miller Park.
OK, the Brewers are out of the way now. At least today, the Bucs threw a scare into them before the inevitable happened. There's still time to salvage the season. But the starting pitching has to be a concern; the pitchers aren't going very deep and the bullpen is starting to fray.
The pen has made 124 appearances in 40 games, with 118-1/3 innings of work, just about 1/3 of the total workload. Hurdle has done a good job of spreading the innings, but the starters have to step it up and give the guys in the outfield a blow more than once a week. Opponents are seeing too many long men and not enough back-enders.
Paul Maholm will try to right the ship against John Lannan tomorrow at Washington.
-- The Bucs now have the same record after 40 games as they did last year, 18-22.
-- The Pirates fell to 3-33 at Miller Park since 2007 and have lost nine straight there.
-- The Pirates released LHP Scott Olsen. With the young pitching coming up, he was redundant for Pittsburgh, which signed him solely as insurance in case Charlie Morton didn't pan out in camp. His hammy injury in spring training cost him any chance of making the team, and AAA wasn't really an option. He was either going to be in the show or gone; there are too many young arms knocking at Indy's door to stash him there.