The Pirates smashed 16 hits Friday night in a rout of division-leading Milwaukee, but they got off to an inauspicious start Saturday with three first-inning errors.
It foreshadowed the rest of the afternoon.
The Brewers collected nine hits and took advantage of five Pirates errors on their way to a 9-3 win at PNC Park.
The Pirates led, 2-1, early, but Edinson Volquez had a rough fourth inning as the Brewers began a comeback that soon led to a lead they never relinquished.
Volquez threw 26 pitches in the fourth and gave up three runs and three hits. He also hit a batter and saw an intentional walk backfire as Milwaukee built a 4-2 lead.
"The breaking ball that had been effective for him early [disappeared and] he spun three breaking balls that hung over the plate," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I thought he repeated his delivery well, a little bit quick out of the stretch at times ... but he continued to work and battle."
Pedro Alvarez drove in Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen with a bases-loaded single to shallow right in the third to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead that did not last long.
In the fourth, Khris Davis drove in Jonathan Lucroy with a ground-rule double, and the Pirates walked Scooter Gennett intentionally to load the bases for Lyle Overbay. That backfired when Overbay hit a two-run single to center.
"I just left a couple pitches right in the middle. Bad timing. They took the lead, and that was bad," Volquez said. "I've got to execute pitches better in those situations. That was the whole game."
Volquez went six innings, giving up 4 hits, 4 runs (3 earned) and 2 intentional walks. He also struck out five and threw a wild pitch.
Reliever Justin Wilson gave up four runs in the seventh, Jeanmar Gomez gave up a run in the ninth.
But, in reality, it all started to go south long before that when Brewers leadoff batter Jean Segura reached third on three Pirates errors to open the game and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Jordy Mercer misplayed a grounder to short as Segura reached first.
With Ryan Braun at the plate, Volquez threw a pickoff attempt that bounced off the end of Ike Davis' glove at first and sent Segura to second. Davis tried to throw him out there, but the ball sailed into the outfield as Segura took third.
"That sets up innings differently, you're pitching out of the stretch, pitching in different leverage situations. We didn't help ourselves on the defensive side at all," Hurdle said. "[Volquez] left the game, we were in a position to win. They pushed, and we weren't able to push back later."
The Pirates tacked on a third run in the sixth. Alvarez walked, reached third on a throwing error, and scored as Mercer hit into a double play to cut the deficit to 4-3.
But Wilson had an uncharacteristically poor eighth, giving up two runs thanks to two walks, a hit batsman and single before Jeanmar Gomez relieved him with two out and two on.
Braun hit a two-run double off Gomez, but the runs were charged to Wilson.
"I don't want to overanalyze him here," Hurdle said. "He's been really good for us. Another situation, you come into a one-run game ... got a quick out and got in a couple situations to put people away and just wasn't able to today. Large volume of pitches, and the inning got away from him."
Hurdle focused more on the errors.
"The one thing we try and pride ourselves on is being focused and ready every pitch," Hurdle said. "We have one hitter and we have three errors.
"We don't just turn our heads and stick our heads in the sand when we play rough defense. We don't.
"We take it to heart. That part of our game should be one of the most consistent parts, and it was not today."
By Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published June 7, 2014 7:38 PM