Pirates lose 17th in row at Milwaukee's Miller Park
April 29, 2009 8:00 AM
Jim Prisching/Associated Press
Starter Paul Maholm gathers himself after giving up a home run to Bill Hall leading off the sixth inning. The Brewers scored three times to take a 6-5 lead.
By Chuck Finder Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
MILWAUKEE -- And so Milwaukee's mojo continues.
The Pirates couldn't beat these Brewers with ace Paul Maholm, a winner in his past three starts.
They couldn't beat the Brewers with a couple of Wisconsin boys, Eric Hinske of Menasha and Jason Jaramillo of Franksville, each bopping two-run doubles.
They couldn't beat the Brewers with a four-run lead.
The host with the hex on the Pirates collected two home runs in the sixth inning and five runs over two innings in the middle of the game, leading to a 6-5 victory that was the Brewers' 17th consecutive win against them in Miller Park and 14th in a row anywhere.
"You know what? It's tough to play here," said Maholm, who didn't get the loss last night but remains 0-5 and his Pirates winless in his past eight starts against Milwaukee. "But we got to get over it. We got to win. We got to put it behind us. We can't just throw the ball down the middle and let them hit home runs."
"Who cares what's happened before this year?" added Adam LaRoche. "None of those stats, none of those numbers matter. Right now, we're 0-2 against these guys. This is the first month. We play them a lot. No big deal."
• Game: Pirates vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 1:05 p.m., Miller Park.
• Radio: WPGB-FM (104.7).
• Pitching: RHP Ian Snell (1-2, 4.50) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (2-1, 3.71)
• Key matchup: Snell is 4-1 in his career vs. Milwaukee, but Prince Fielder is 7 for 15 against him, with a home run and two doubles.
• Of note: The Pirates, 6-4 in day games, have played as often in the day as at night. Top hitter by daylight has been Adam LaRoche at .400 -- 14 for 35 -- with 4 home runs.
This time, the Pirates clawed to a 5-1 lead, built mostly on two-RBI performances by Jaramillo and Hinske.
Hinske also was one of three Pirates hit by pitches from Milwaukee starter Dave Bush, but, so the Pirates felt, the only premeditated one in an act of retribution from Jeff Karstens' plunking Monday of the Brewers' Ryan Braun.
The Pirates got nine runners in scoring position but could only plate one. They got into the Brewers' bullpen, which once again shut down the Pirates, and got into trouble with their own previously trustworthy pen.
Maholm escaped bases-loaded jams in the third and fourth, but, manager John Russell said, "Sooner or later, the baseball gods get you."
After Maholm gave up two runs in the fifth on one hit and opened the sixth with a changeup that Bill Hall rocketed 390 feet for a leadoff homer that was followed by Craig Counsell's single, Jesse Chavez (1-0) gave up the tying and go-ahead runs in a two-run homer to Rickie Weeks..
"That was me," said Maholm, who yielded five earned runs after allowing a total of six in four previous games, the last three of them victories.
"It wasn't them hitting great pitches. It was me being pretty brutal.
"Overall, it was just bad."
True, the Brewers are hot, having ending a personal hex with Philadelphia and cinching their third consecutive series triumph, ending the Pirates' similar streak at three. But a four-run lead after five innings isn't enough in this bandbox against this batting order.
"There's something about here, there's something about this place," LaRoche said of a Miller Park friendly to a Brewers lineup teeming with right-handed power hitters.
"It's never comfortable. I've played here six years, and I've never had a comfortable lead that I can remember. They always seem to put some runs on the board late."
It wasn't quite as late as the Brewers' five-run rally in the eighth to shatter a 5-5 tie Monday night, but the two-run fifth followed by a three-run sixth were enough for Milwaukee this game.
Maholm let a 1-2 count on Corey Hart turn into a walk, then allowed a soft liner by Ryan Braun to double home Hart. Two groundouts led to Braun scoring and Milwaukee paring the lead to one.
Hall's homer on Maholm's first pitch of the sixth, Counsell's single and Weeks' homer on a 93 mph Chavez fastball that seemed to taper off, and the Brewers' pox on the Pirates was again in full rage.
Maholm referred to his troubles as mechanical, "trying to throw the ball down the middle and missing by 3 feet. But it'll definitely be different on Monday.
"The team gives you a 5-1 lead, and you let them down," Maholm added. "It's pretty tough to take."
Perhaps the Pirates should call up Tom Gorzelanny to start instead of Ian Snell for the 1:05 p.m. getaway-day game today. After all, Gorzelanny is the most recent Pirates pitcher to beat these Brewers: May 3, 2007 here in Miller Park and last May 22 anywhere.
"This is baseball," said Jaramillo, who countered Bush's back-to-back plunkings of Hinske and Andy LaRoche with his two-run double into the right-center field gap. "Crazy stuff is going to happen. We just have to have the mental toughness to battle through."