Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lohse Baffles Bucs 4-1

The first two innings went by quietly between Charlie Morton and Kyle Lohse, thanks to a couple of sparkling plays by the Brewers and a web gem by Travis Ishikawa. After the Bucs went nine up, nine down, the Brew Crew struck. The eight hitter, Martin Maldonado, doubled on an 0-2 pitch, and a bunt and sac fly (JT caught it flat-footed, virtually eliminating a strong throw) brought him home.

The Pirates came right back to tie it in the fourth. Starling Marte singled and went to third on a hit-and-run knock by JT. Cutch's sac fly knotted the score, but the Bucs couldn't add on. The lead lasted for two batters. Ryan Braun doubled to open the Milwaukee half and came in on an Aramis Ramirez single; A-Ram is 9-for-12 with RISP so far in the early going.

The Bucs stranded one in the fifth and the Brewers a pair; Morton walked the eight hitter Maldonado and plunked Kohse in the knee but left them aboard. The Bucs went quietly in the sixth and Milwaukee tacked on. With an out, A-Ram walked and went to third on Lyle Overbay's double. Scooter Gennett K'ed on a ball in the dirt. Tony Sanchez blocked it, then airmailed the ball into right, allowing both runners to score while Scooter scooted to third to make it 4-1.

Lohse took advantage of a generous strike zone in the seventh - the edges have been going to the pitchers today - and K'ed the side on 12 pitches. Two wrongs made a right for the Pirates in the Brewer half. With an out, Carlos Gomez lined a single to left and Jean Segura bunted for a hit, with Morton eating the ball. Morton alertly caught Go-Go taking a big turn - no one was at third for a moment, tho Pedro retreated quickly enough to cover -  but his low throw went through Jordy Mercer. Gomez tried to sprint home, but The Kid, backing the play, tossed him out, and the score remained the same.

Pittsburgh's bottom of the order didn't pick it up; two K's and a soft grounder left Lohse a rung away from a complete game W. Charlie was done and Justin Wilson worked the eighth. Scooter slapped a two-out roller the opposite way and stole second, but was stranded. After an out in the ninth, the Bucs got back-to-back liners from JT and Cutch - Tabata's was an at 'em ball, Cutch's found grass - and Kohse was sent to showers, not winning Ron Roenicke many fans. Lefty Will Smith came in and K'ed Pedro, who especially was getting clobbered by the soft strike zone, and the Brewers had their tenth win in a dozen games.

Charlie didn't have his best stuff today - he walked three and only K'ed three - but gave up just four hits and like Volquez last night, deserved a better fate. The Buc bats were brutal this series, with five runs on 16 hits. Maybe Milwaukee's pitching is that good. The Pirate pitching was good, too, but some sloppy play in the field was costly in a grind-it-out series.

And it's apparent why the Bucs signed Chris Stewart. Tony Sanchez needs work, both on blocking balls - the Pirate staff has a lot of guys who like to bury balls in the dirt - and his throwing, which seems to come and go and needs to become more consistent.

Now it's off to Cincinnati, where Wandy Rodriguez faces Homer Bailey.

  • The positive in this series was that the Buc starters worked fairly deep, so the bullpen was only tapped for 4-2/3 IP, a plus with 17 consecutive games still on the books. 
  • Pittsburgh doesn't have much time to lick its wounds. The Brewers visit PNC Park Thursday for a four game set.
  • The Brew Crew won their ninth in a row. They had a nine game streak last season, too, and it started a year ago today, on 4/14/13.
  • Milwaukee's starters haven't surrendered more than three earned runs in a game this season.
  • Ex-Bucs: RHP Yoslan Herrera, a Pirate from Cuba long ago, was recalled by the Angels.

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