Pirates' 20-0 loss is worst in franchise's 124 years

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It gets no lower.

The Pirates broke the record for the worst loss in franchise history by getting blown out yet again by the Milwaukee Brewers, 20-0, this afternoon at PNC Park.

The previous mark for the 124-year-old franchise for the worst loss was by an 18-run margin, set twice: The first came a century ago, with an 18-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on July 11, 1910. The other was a 19-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on July 14, 1955.

The clubhouse was on edge afterward.

"Today was an embarrassment," reliever Brendan Donnelly said, snapping off every word. "We should all be embarrassed to have Major League Baseball uniforms on our back today. It was an atrocity. We set a record. We should all be embarrassed about it. That's how I feel."

Others elected to look ahead.

"I don't care about that," left fielder Lastings Milledge said of the record. "I don't care about making history. I care about winning games. All we need to do is win our next game, 1-0. And if we do that, people are still going to say we just got outscored, 36-1. It doesn't matter. We're still 7-8, and we're still having a good season. We had a bad series. We're still focused, still ready to play. And we're going to take it to somebody on the road, make somebody pay. That's our mentality, and that's what we're going to do."

Manager John Russell focused on the starting pitching, which has been by far the worst in baseball.

"It's embarrassing," Russell said of the result. "We've got to pitch better. That's the bottom line. We can't keep giving up that many runs that early and keep trying to fight back. We've got to get past the third or fourth inning. We just can't continue to cover that many innings out of our bullpen. We've just got to do a better job with our rotation."

Russell said the Pirates are discussing how to address their rotation, with Ross Ohlendorf on the 15-day disabled list and McCutchen a highly ineffective fifth starter.

"Unfortunately, with Ross down, we've got to cover a spot there, as well. We're looking into it, and we'll make a decision in the next couple of days."

Of being beaten badly by the Brewers, the team that has tortured the Pirates more than any other in recent years, Russell said, "We got our butt kicked. We didn't pitch well. Whoever comes in here is going to do that to us if we don't pitch well."

Daniel McCutchen was rocked for six runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings, the offense was shut out for a second consecutive game, and Milwaukee got home runs from Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, George Kottaras and Jim Edmonds.

For the series, the Brewers outscored the Pirates, 36-1, and out-hit them, 46-18, with 25 extra-base hits to the Pirates' six, eight home runs to the Pirates' zero. On the mound, the Brewers' starters went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA, while the Pirates' starters went 0-3 with a 15.82 ERA.

It was the most lopsided three-game series in the majors since the Detroit Tigers swept the Minnesota Twins by a combined 45-10 on April 23-25, 1993.

Also obliterated were the previous mark for worst loss at PNC, that by 13-1 to the Houston Astros on Aug. 27, 2006, as well as the previous mark for worst series at PNC, that a three-game sweep by Cincinnati on Sept. 22-24 of last year in which the Reds outscored the Pirates, 26-7.

The crowd of 13,634 booed most of the afternoon, except for when some began cheering on the Brewers to go for 20 runs in the ninth inning. There was cheering when that 20th run crossed, too, followed by loud boos for the home team.

It was a strange scene.

When it was done, first baseman Garrett Jones stood against the Pirates' dugout railing, staring off into a distance while the Brewers walked through their post-victory line.

"It's frustrating, to get beat like that. It's never fun. They're all swinging the bat pretty well, not missing anything. Nothing you can do about that, I guess. I don't think I've ever seen a team hit that well all the way through the lineup, that consistent through a whole game. They were having good at-bats. Everybody just squared up, something you don't see very much. They've been locked in the past three games. Today, they just all exploded. It was unbelievable to see."

The Pirates had been expressing bold confidence after starting out 7-5, but they now are back below .500 at 7-8 heading into a 10-game road trip that begins tomorrow in Houston.

In their eight losses, the Pirates have been outscored, 85-13.

McCutchen achieved something remarkable in entering the game with a 14.73 ERA and emerging with the exact same figure: He had a 1-2-3 first inning, but Fielder's home run to lead off the second came on a 1-2 mistake fastball, Braun's three-run shot the next inning came off a nine-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off fastball after fastball, and Russell saw enough by the fourth.

McCutchen never has been known for dynamic stuff in rising through the minors, but he has shown a thorough inability to get swings and misses in nearly two months with the Pirates going back to late last season.

From the Milwaukee standpoint, it matched the largest margin of victory in the Brewers' history, along with a 22-2 victory in Toronto Aug. 28, 1992.

"It was just one of those crazy games," the Brewers' Edmonds said. "You never know what's going to happen when you step on the field. You keep playing the game and respect the situation. They're trying. We're trying. There's a fine line between respecting the game and still playing the game. It's a tough situation. We played well for three days, and it showed in the overall score."

Dejan Kovacevic: dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Find more at PBC Blog .


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