Pirates fall to Brewers, 9-3
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MILWAUKEE -- An injury forced Jeff Karstens out of the game early against the Brewers for a second consecutive start.
The first time, the Pirates led by four runs when Karstens exited in the eighth. This time, they trailed by four runs when he left one out into the first inning.
That hole was too deep to survive as the Pirates lost to the Brewers, 9-3, Friday night at Miller Park. Karstens left the game with "hip flexor discomfort," according to the team.
The loss cost the Pirates (70-61) a chance to take control of the race for the second and final wild card playoff spot in the National League. They still trail the St. Louis Cardinals, who also lost Friday, by half a game.
Heading into the start, Karstens had indicated the injury he sustained last week -- which at the time appeared to be a strained groin -- was not an issue. He did not miss any side work and said he pitched well in a bullpen session Tuesday.
Manager Clint Hurdle said earlier in the week there were "no red flags," for Karstens as he approached his start.
But it became quickly apparent Friday something was bothering the right-handed starter because he didn't have the type of command of his pitches he had displayed over the previous two months.
Karstens allowed back-to-back hits to start the first inning to Nyjer Morgan and Rickie Weeks. Two batters later he served a hanging breaking ball to Aramis Ramirez, who laced it into left field for a two-run single.
Corey Hart, the next batter, did a bit more damage with a hanging breaking ball from Karstens, crushing it over the Brewers' bullpen beyond the left field way for a two-run homer that gave the Brewers (63-68) a 4-0 lead.
Karstens stuck around for one more batter, but after Jonathan Lucrow singled to right field on a line drive, athletic trainer Todd Tomzyck and Clint Hurdle visited Karstens from the mound and pulled him from the game.
In all, he allowed four earned runs on five hits in one-third of an inning. It was his shortest outing of the season, though he left an April start against the Arizona Diamondbacks after one inning with a different injury. He was placed on the disabled list the following day with right shoulder inflammation, and he did not return until June.
He was replaced Friday by Kyle McPherson, who allowed one earned run on one hit and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. He hit two batters and struck out three more in his second career major league appearance.
He could have given the Pirates more innings, considering he has pitched in the minor leagues primarily as a starter. But since teams are able to expand their rosters up to 40 players beginning today, bullpen help is on the way.
Milwaukee had four stolen bases, all of which came in the first three innings.
Ramirez gave the Brewers a bit of breathing room in the eighth inning when he hit his second two-run RBI of the night. He hit a two-run homer off left-handed reliever Hisanori Takahashi that put the Brewers ahead, 7-2.
Milwaukee added two more runs in the inning to put the game firmly out of reach.
The Pirates pulled within three runs of the Brewers in the seventh inning. Trailing 5-1, pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez drilled a line drive to left field for a one-out double. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Alex Presley grounded out to second.
Garrett Jones put the Pirates on the board in the fourth inning with a solo home run, his 22nd of the season. Facing a 2-0 count, Jones connected with a 94-mph fastball from Milwaukee starter Mark Rogers and crashed it into an advertisement above the Pirates' bullpen in right field. The homer cut the Brewers' lead to 5-1.
Kevin Correia carried the load for the Pirates' pitching staff, throwing four shutout innings. He allowed four hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
Morgan finished the game 3 for 5 with a double, two runs and a walk. Hart went 3 for 4 and was hit by a pitch.
Rogers allowed one earned run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five batters in his ninth career start.
By the time the Pirates got their first hit against Rogers -- a softly hit double by Josh Harrison to lead off the third inning -- the Brewers had a 5-0 lead. The Pirates were unable to move Harrison past second.
First Published August 31, 2012 11:56 pm