Pirates' bullpen fails in eighth in 10-5 loss
Andy LaRoche is brushed back by Brewers pitcher Braden Looper in the fifth inning last night in Milwaukee.
The Brewers' Rickie Weeks is congratulated by Corey Hart after hitting a three-run home run against Jeff Karstens last night.
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MILWAUKEE -- Make it 16 in a row in Miller Park. Make it 13 in a row anywhere.
The Brewers continued their pox on the Pirates last night, rapping three home runs in as many innings early and rocking an otherwise erstwhile bullpen with a five-run eighth to prolong their winning streaks with a 10-5 triumph in front of 32,198 patrons inside their retractable-roof edifice.
Those early homers off Jeff Karstens by Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks -- on a two-out, three-run shot -- and Mike Cameron provided the Brewers with a lift from the start. Weeks' infield grounder started the winning rally in the five-run eighth. In between Karstens' exit and that bottom of the eighth, the Pirates -- who stranded 10 baserunners, including three on third base and four on second -- managed to rally from a 5-2 deficit to a 5-5 tie.
Pirates manager John Russell then turned over the ball to his most-trusted relievers before the ninth, Tyler Yates and John Grabow, and Milwaukee thumped them with five hits while drawing three walks and a hit batsmen in that crazy eighth.
"We brought the guys in we rely heavily on all the time, and [they] just didn't get it done," Russell said. "You know, Tyler and John are two guys we'll go to every time in that situation. Most times they come through it all right. But it was one of those nights."
"Oh, definitely, I'll take them 100 percent of the time," catcher Jason Jaramillo, a Wisconsinite making his homecoming, said of Yates (0-1) and Grabow, key components of a bullpen that lost previously only against Houston and in an 11th-inning affair Friday at San Diego. "In the course of 162 games, you're going to have days like that. We all have them."
• Game: Pirates vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 8:05 p.m., Miller Park.
• TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
• Pitching: LHP Paul Maholm (3-0, 2.03) vs. RHP Dave Bush (1-0, 3.86)
• Key matchup: The Brewers' Mike Cameron and Bill Hall torture Maholm, Cameron owning a .611 career average -- 11 for 18 -- with three home runs, Hall at .560 -- 14 for 25 -- with two home runs.
• Of note: Nyjer Morgan's two hits last night raised his career average at Miller Park to .515 -- 17 for 33 -- over nine games there.
The game began rather successfully for the Pirates, who put their first five hitters on base against Braden Looper, but scratched out only a 2-0 lead.
With two outs in the first, Braun clubbed a 385-foot blast to right-center field.
With two outs in the second, with Bill Hall aboard after a double into the left-field corner and former Pirates catcher Jason Kendall at first after a full-count walk, Weeks clouted a Karstens curveball over the left-field wall for a 4-2 Brewers advantage.
With two outs in the third, Cameron also homered to left. That made it 5-2 Milwaukee.
This off Pirates pitchers who beforehand allowed only 13 homers in 18 games.
Just one of those nights ... against a Brewers crew that keeps on beating the Pirates. And beating them.
"You don't worry about streaks or whatever," Russell said. "It's a different year."
"I have no idea," Jaramillo added about the 16- and 13-game Milwaukee runs. "It's news to me."
The previous time the Pirates beat the Brewers anywhere was their third meeting of 2008, on May 22, when Tom Gorzelanny and the home-standing club got homers from Xavier Nady and Jason Bay for an 8-4 triumph.
The most recent time the Pirates won inside Miller Park was May 3, 2007, by 4-2, Gorzelanny winning again.
So when they rallied to tie this one in the eighth, when Freddy Sanchez doubled in Jaramillo and Nyjer Morgan with two strikes, two outs and two runs desperately needed, it seemed that maybe, just maybe, these plucky Pirates might be able to solve this Milwaukee riddle after all. Nah.
"I committed the cardinal sin, walking the first batter I faced," Yates said. "On five pitches. ... Unfortunately, I was all over the place."
He then grazed the hand of a Kendall squaring to bunt, yielded a sacrifice to pinch-batter Craig Counsell advancing both runners, then got Weeks to hit a sharp grounder to Sanchez. But Sanchez's hasty throw went to the opposite side of home plate from where Hall was barreling home, and the hex was back.
Corey Hart followed with a double off Grabow to score Kendall. After Braun was intentionally walked, a Prince Fielder single drove in Weeks and Hart. Then Cameron followed with a sacrifice fly, bringing home Braun. That rapidly, it was 10-5, Milwaukee. Game essentially over. Streak still on.
"Just tried to come in that game and limit the damage, and didn't get it done," Grabow said. "Things happened kind of quick."
First Published April 28, 2009 12:05 am