The Pittsburgh Pirates’ pitching failed them Tuesday night, neutralizing a six-run rally and handing the Milwaukee Brewers a 7-6 victory at PNC Park.
Pirates starter Jeff Locke allowed five runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings, putting the Bucs in a 5-0 hole before a four-run bottom of the fifth turned a potential laugher into a tense back-and-forth battle. Neil Walker’s three-run homer over the right-field grandstand keyed the comeback.
Pittsburgh (76-55) twice tied the game, the first time in the sixth on Felix Pie’s second RBI hit of the night, and the second time in the seventh on Pedro Alvarez’ league-leading 32nd home run off the foul pole. However, the Brewers (58-73) kept poking their noses ahead, getting single runs in the seventh and eighth innings off the usually airtight Pirates bullpen.
Justin Wilson and Bryan Morris were the culprits in Milwaukee’s late push, as both allowed a run on two hits. Morris was victimized for the decisive run, which came home on Caleb Gindl’s sacrifice fly and held up in the bottom of the ninth despite Andrew McCutchen’s one-out double.
Pittsburgh’s third straight loss, coupled with a Cardinals victory over the Reds, put St. Louis up 1 1/2 games for the National League Central lead. The Pirates maintained a three-game edge on Cincinnati for second in the division and the top wild-card spot.
The Pirates’ pungent pitching obstructed one of the offense’s more spectacular nights of 2013. Alvarez went 4 for 4 with two singles, a double, a walk and his clutch line-drive dinger, while McCutchen, Walker, Pie and Andrew Lambo recorded two hits each. Pittsburgh racked up 15 hits, 13 of which against Brewers starter Kyle Lohse, who had previously given the Bucs trouble in his career.
It was a night for third basemen, as former Pirate Aramis Ramirez had four hits in five at-bats, including a long solo home run to left-center in the fourth and a two-run double in the fifth. His two-out RBI single in the seventh put the Brewers ahead briefly before Alvarez went deep moments later.
Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy went 3 for 4 with a run-scoring single that started the Brewers’ three-run fifth.
Charlie Morton pitches against old Pirates phenom Tom Gorzelanny on Wednesday night in the second game of this midweek series.