The Pittsburgh Pirates are fading fast in the race for the N.L. Central division title. After losing their second straight game to the Milwaukee Brewers this afternoon at Miller Park, the Pirates are now four games under .500 and are drifting further behind their division rivals.
Gerrit Cole and Jimmy Nelson battled their way through trying starts this afternoon, each earning a no-decision. Cole gave up four runs on five hits (including three homeruns) in six innings, while Nelson gave up five runs (three earned) on eight hits in 6.1 innings of work.
The Pirates scored the game’s first run in the very first inning. After singling to lead off, Starling Marte advanced to third when Nelson attempted to pick him off first base, throwing the ball away. Later in the inning, Josh Bell hit a clutch two-out RBI single to put the Bucs on the board, 1-0.
An eventful third inning began with the Pirates plating three runs in the top half. Andrew McCutchen’s RBI single scored Marte from second, putting runners at first and third with two outs. Back-to-back RBI singles from Bell and David Freese followed, putting the Pirates in front 4-0.
Milwaukee responded immediately in the bottom of the inning on a solo homerun by Keon Broxton. Then, after a one-out walk to Eric Sogard, Neil Walker connected on a two run homerun to cut the lead to a single run at 4-3.
Nelson and Cole settled in after the third inning, holding the opposing offenses in check throughout the next few innings until the bottom of the sixth, when the Brewers tied the game on a solo homerun by Travis Shaw to lead off the inning.
The Pirates answered immediately the very next inning. Josh Harrison’s RBI single off Jared Hughes with two outs scored John Jaso to give them the lead right back at 5-4.
Broxton’s 19th homerun of the season (and second of the game) off George Kontos tied the game in the bottom of the seventh. But the Buccos battled back yet again, as Adam Frazier singled home Bell, once again giving Pittsburgh the lead.
But the knockout blow came in the bottom of the eighth, as Manny Pina hit a two run homerun off Juan Nicasio to put the Brewers in front for good at 7-6. The Pirates went down in order in the top of the ninth, and Milwaukee completed the two game series sweep.
This was a heartbreaking loss for the Pirates today. After a disappointing performance in last night’s game, they really needed to respond with a win this afternoon. They appeared to be well on their way to a victory today, but the bullpen really let the team down. A series sweep to a divisional opponent is unacceptable at this point in the season, so the Pirates really need to respond quickly beginning tomorrow night against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Record vs. Brewers: 8-5
Record vs. N.L. Central: 21-23
Record on the Road: 26-36
Overall Record: 58-62
Let’s Go Bucs!