Replays, game do not go in Pirates' favor
MILWAUKEE — Replay review is supposed to answer questions and resolve disputes.
On Tuesday, it merely left the Pirates scratching their heads.
A pair of close plays — one at the plate that was reviewed, the other at first base that wasn't — went against the Pirates in a 3-1 loss against the Milwaukee Brewers.
"Both those runs had some taint on them," manager Clint Hurdle said.
Josh Bell was involved in both plays.
In the fourth inning, Bell was thrown out at home. The Pirates argued that catcher Manny Pina blocked the plate, but lost their replay challenge when officials in the MLB war room in New York allowed the call to stand.
"I look forward to getting an explanation as to what the call was … why the call was not overturned, why it stood," Hurdle said.
In the sixth, Pina was ruled safe at first base on a bang-bang play, which allowed the go-ahead run to score. The Pirates were unable to challenge, and the umpires did not ask for a review.
"I came off after I caught the ball," Bell said. "It was just a tough play. I wish I could have had a little bit of extra time on there with my right foot."
It's not a good time for the Pirates to absorb such setbacks. They are beginning a stretch of 38 games that includes 34 showdowns against NL Central foes.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (10-10) pitched well enough to keep the Pirates in it. Over six innings, Nova gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits, walked three and struck out four.
"The command on my pitches was huge for me, my fastball and changeup, especially," Nova said. "The angle on my pitches was where it was supposed to be. If I missed, it was off the plate. It was a good day."
Brewers right-hander Zach Davies was coming off one of the worst outings of his career. Last Thursday, he set a career-high for hits allowed (11) and matched his career-worst for runs allowed (seven) against the Minnesota Twins.
Davies (14-6) held the Pirates to one run on six hits in 62⁄3 innings.
The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Travis Shaw singled. Domingo Santana walked. And a throwing error by Bell loaded the bases.
Shaw scored when Pina grounded into a force play.
With two outs and Bell at first base in the fourth, Adam Frazier looped a single to right field. As Bell sped to third, Domingo Santana's throw bounced toward the Pirates' dugout.
Bell tried to score, but third baseman Shaw recovered in time and made a strong throw to the plate. The throw was slightly toward the first-base side, so Pina blocked the plate as he reached across.
"I definitely didn't have a lane," Bell said. "I didn't realize that until after the fact. I had my head down running and slid right into the plate. That's one of the few times you can clobber a catcher, but it didn't really cross my mind."
The Pirates tied it in the sixth. With two outs, Adam Frazier rifled a 1-2 curveball into the right field corner for an RBI triple.
In the bottom of the inning, Shaw walked with one out and went to second on a passed ball. A ground out moved Shaw to third. Neil Walker was intentionally walked.
Pina hit a sharp grounder to the left side. Statcast gave the play a 7 percent chance of resulting in a hit.
The Brewers beat the odds.
Third baseman David Freese tried to make a diving stop, but only deflected the ball. Shortstop Jordy Mercer hit his brakes and adjusted in time to make a snow-cone catch. Mercer got off a strong throw, but Pina was ruled safe for a run-scoring infield single.
A replay appeared to show Pina was a half-step behind Mercer's throw, but also indicated Bell's foot came off the bag.
"It was one of the best stretches I've had this year," Bells said. "If I could just stay on it a tick loger, it goes in our favor."
Either way, it didn't matter. The Pirates already had used up their challenge and crew chief Joe West didn't ask the folks in the video room at MLB headquarters to take a second look.
"It was going to be a tough call if we would've had a challenge," Hurdle said. "It probably would've stood because he was called safe and there might not have been enough (evidence) to reverse it."
Former Pirate Keon Broxton gave the Brewers some breathing room with a solo shot off A.J. Schugel. It was Broxton's 17th home run this season — that would rank him third on the team if he was still with the Pirates — and his third career pinch-hit homer.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.