Somewhere between Yovani Gallardo pitching predominance and the baseball blood feud with the Brewers, the Pirates on Thursday lost a game but not their hot streak.
This hot streak, though, ran down their backs rather than through their bats.
In the end this night of a 3-2 Milwaukee triumph, its 10th in 11 Gallardo career starts against the Pirates, there was a batter plunked by a pitch from each side, though there was the one that trailed behind Jose Tabata for a ball-four and a warning to each dugout. There was a collision at home plate between Prince Fielder, a gent approaching 300 pounds, and backup catcher Erik Kratz, starting his third major-league game all because the regular, Ryan Doumit, was placed on the disabled list hours earlier after a home-plate collision the night before. There was, you know, that old Pirates-Brewers feeling.
Game: Pirates vs. San Diego Padres, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
Pitching: LHP Paul Maholm (6-7, 4.03) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (6-6, 5.22).
Key matchup: Maholm vs. brief history. Despite pitching well (3.05 ERA), Maholm is 0-2 in three career starts against the Padres.
Of note: Correia has won once in his past eight starts. Then again, he has lost twice in that span (41 innings, 50 hits, 28 earned runs, nine home runs, and one start longer than six innings).
Was there intent on the visitors' part to purposefully plunk Delwyn Young in the fifth inning by Gallardo and throw behind Tabata -- who many in the 18,715 crowd at PNC Park booed after thinking he got hit -- in the seventh by reliever Todd Coffey?
"Absolutely," Pirates manager John Russell said.
The Brewers got hit by three pitches in the series that was a split despite the Pirates outscoring them by 29-18 all told -- indeed, it was far from retribution for Milwaukee's three-game sweep by 36-1 here in April.
The hit batsman were the usual suspects: Fielder and Rickie Weeks, whom Ross Ohlendorf (1-8) got in fifth inning, one inning after Fielder's home run constituted the only run allowed by this Pirates' starter in his six innings.
For Weeks, it was his 18th hit by pitch, leading the major leagues. Second? Fielder, with 16.
What got the Pirates hot was Coffey's throw behind Tabata, walking him with two out in a seventh inning that nearly did in Milwaukee: Young singled next, and Neil Walker's two-RBI double made it a one-run game.
On top of that, they weren't exactly enamored of Fielder being waved home from second on a soft single to Lastings Milledge in left field, then barreling into Kratz despite teammate Carlos Gomez who strangely positioned himself behind home-plate umpire Mike Muchlinski and out of Fielder's view.
"In this series, I knew we hit some of their players," began Evan Meek, who yielded his second homer in 24 outings, a critical, two-run blast in the seventh by Weeks. "But none of those was intentional. I can understand the last game, retaliation [for a 15-3 Pirates romp Wednesday]. I get that. But they had it with Delwyn Young. They threw at him with another pitch. Then they hit him. It should've been over then. They made their point. Personally, I think it's unnecessary. ... There's no reason to throw at Tabata."
Added Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, at the center of a hit-batsman controversy in April 2009 with Jeff Karstens: "It was pretty intense, it was fun. It's nice to feel like we played a meaningful game, you know. It's definitely a good environment, good atmosphere -- probably the best atmosphere of any game I've ever played here in my four years."
Meantime, Milwaukee manager Ken Macha -- outspoken just this past weekend about how foes keep throwing at his players -- was none too pleased by Ohlendorf's second pitch of the at-bat bounding off Weeks' left-elbow armor.
"I haven't seen the ball that Rickie got hit with; from my understanding, it was in the middle of the batter's box," Macha said. "It kind of fired up Rickie, and he hit a home run to right-center the next time.
"It was a little old-school out there."
It was a lot of Gallardo (9-4), too.
The Brewers' All-Star right-hander continued his mastery over the Pirates, leaving them without an earned run for the fifth time in his 11 starts against them. They are still waiting to tally a run off him in 2010: three starts, 17 innings, a 3-0 record, zeroes across the scoreboard.
"His fastball is very, very ... " Garrett Jones couldn't find the words. He snapped his fingers. "There's just a lot of life to it. And he's got his slider and curveball to back it up. Yeah, he's tough."
"Last time I faced him was in low-A," said Neil Walker, who reached on a single and a walk in his first pair of at-bats. "He's got some really, really good stuff. He was tough on everybody."
He has been especially tough on the Pirates, whom he allowed five hits but nary a baserunner beyond second in his six shutout innings. The Pirates beat him Aug. 19 in PNC Park by 3-1 -- and three constitutes the most runs they've conjured off him, that just three times in those 11 starts.
Offered Walker, "We'll get him."
National League West-leading San Diego hits PNC Park tonight for a three-game set. But, after catching the buzz from the Pirates' clubhouse Thursday, you can't help but take a glance at Aug. 27-29 -- when these rivals meet again.