MILWAUKEE — The evidence stacked up further for the Pirates Sunday, who historically have not fared well at Miller Park.
The Pirates lost, 4-1, in just 2 hours, 11 minutes. The Brewers handed them their first sweep of the season.
They managed just four hits off starter Kyle Lohse, who was one out away from a complete game when he left to a standing ovation.
The Pirates gave up two unearned runs in the loss, which followed a 4-2 loss Friday and 3-2 loss Saturday.
“It is what it is,” starter Charlie Morton said. “I’ve been privy to all of that. It’s in the record books. You can look it up. At the same time, you try not to let things like Miller Park allow you to get down at a place you’re going to play. It’s peripheral information. But it is what it is. It’s what we’ve done here.”
Morton went seven innings, allowing six hits and four runs, two of them earned. He walked three, struck out three, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch, but his sinker played well.
Lohse gave up just four hits, an earned run and struck out nine. He retired the first nine batters he faced.
“We anticipated what he was going to do,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Show you enough fastballs to gear you up for that. He’s been known to spin and go soft, mix that in more. He hit his spots, stayed ahead of the count, stayed down.”
The Brewers scored a run in the third and fourth innings, then scored two unearned in the sixth.
With two men on and just one out in the sixth, Scooter Gennett struck out swinging but ran to first when the ball got away from Tony Sanchez, who then threw it down the right-field line. Both runners scored and Gennett advanced to third.
“I kind of rushed it. Butchered a routine play and that can’t happen in that situation,” Sanchez said. “It would’ve been a much closer game if I didn’t butcher that play. That’s not on Charlie, that’s on me. He should be out of that inning. I take a lot of pride in my defense and getting my pitchers through as many innings as possible. That score does not reflect Charlie’s performance.”
Sanchez had one of the four hits and said it was Lohse’s off-speed pitches that limited the Pirates. Starling Marte, Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen had the other three hits.
“He kept us off balance with his off-speed stuff,” Sanchez said. “He was commanding the fastball to both sides of the plate and he mixed in a changeup to righty’s extremely well which you don’t see very often. He had four pitches working. In a one-run ballgame, it was hard enough to tie it up. When you put your team down three runs with a guy like Lohse and how on he was, it wasn’t a good recipe.”
In the seventh there was nearly more trouble.
Jean Segura singled on a bunt back to Morton, who tried to make a play at second. The ball got past shortstop Jordy Mercer, but Neil Walker snagged it and threw out Carlos Gomez at the plate to prevent any damage.
Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado led off the third with a double, moved to third on a bunt by Lohse and scored on a sacrifice fly by Gomez to make it 1-0.
The Pirates tied it in the fourth when Marte scored on a McCutchen sacrifice fly.
The Brewers took another lead when Aramis Ramirez singled in Ryan Braun in the fourth after Braun hit a leadoff double.
“Braun stayed with the pitch. I’m sure he was trying to protect in. It was maybe middle-away. He just went with it,” Morton said. “Then Ramirez, he got to a sinker I thought wasn’t a bad pitch at all, down-in. … He hit it really well.”
Three impressive defensive plays highlighted the first two innings.
Segura made a diving stop on a hard-hit ball by McCutchen to end the first, and Travis Ishikawa snagged a hard grounder by Segura in the bottom of the inning.
In the second, Logan Shafer made a full-speed, face-first catch at the wall in left center to rob Pedro Alvarez of a hit.
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez.
Jenn Menendez: email@example.com and Twitter @JennMenendez First Published April 13, 2014 4:33 PM