When five consecutive batters reached base in the fourth inning, it seemed like Saturday night’s game could be big for the Pittsburgh Pirates (52-50). But the opportunity was squandered, and only one baserunner scored.
As such, manager Clint Hurdle couldn’t even force a smile in a 5-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers (46-56).
Even the play where the run scored, a Jung Ho Kang single, didn’t have the desired impact as Starling Marte was thrown out at third base. This came after Marte was also thrown out attempting to steal third base in the second inning. And, in that fourth inning, Kang was tagged out at home plate on a two-out Josh Harrison single.
Instead of giving the Pirates the lead, Brewers starting pitcher Chase Anderson left the mound with a 2-1 lead. (Milwaukee’s runs came off a first-inning two-run home run off Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon.)
The score wouldn’t change until the seventh inning.
Arquimedes Caminero came on in relief of Taillon — who allowed two runs on six hits and struck out six — and allowed a one-out triple to Keon Broxton. Then, pinch-hitter Andy Wilkins walked and stole second base and, later, Broxton was tagged out at home on a fielder’s choice. With two men on base, Hurdle elected to bring in Jonathon Niese, creating a lefty-on-lefty matchup.
Niese had Scooter Gennett in an 0-2 count but, instead, the reliever allowed an RBI single that ended his night.
With Jared Hughes, the third Pittsburgh reliever of the inning, on the mound, Gennett stole second base.
Perez hit an RBI single to left field, but Marte threw Gennett out at home to prevent two runs from scoring on the play.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Pirates appeared to be set to go down in order, but Gregory Polanco hit a solo shot, his 14th of the season, to cut the Pirates’ deficit to two runs, 4-2.
Milwaukee scored its fifth and final run when Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered deep into the right-center field seats off reliever Neftali Feliz.
The Brewers brought closer Jeremy Jeffress in for the save. He needed six pitches to record the first two outs — but then the Pirates rallied. Jeffress would have to battle to record the final out.
Francisco Cervelli singled, Harrison walked, and Jordy Mercer hit an RBI single to make it a 5-3 game. But Sean Rodriguez’s fly ball ended the Pirates’ rally.
In Sunday’s series finale, Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano (6-10, 5.38 ERA) take on Milwaukee’s Matt Garza (1-4, 5.74 ERA). Liriano is 7-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 17 career games (16 starts) against the Brewers.
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