Brewers deny Pirates' quest for 82nd win
MILWAUKEE — The Iron City beer will have to be kept on ice, at least for another two nights.
The Pirates' streak of non-winning seasons lives, at least until Friday, as the club failed to record win No. 82 in Milwaukee after a 9-3 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday.
One win from their first winning season since 1992, the Pirates are off Thursday before meeting the Cardinals in St. Louis on Friday to begin a three-game series.
At Miller Park, Francisco Liriano (15-7) allowed seven runs and nine baserunners in three innings. Offensively, the Pirates stranded 11.
Liriano has become unpredictable on the road in the second half. Since Aug. 1, Liriano has made five road starts. Three have been awful, including Wednesday's outing and the two-inning, 10-run effort in Colorado on Aug. 8. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle sees a common thread in Liriano's woes.
“Similar situations to the two other outings,” Hurdle said. “He kind of falls in his delivery and he rushes: the changeup and slider stay up, the fastball command is usually wide. He was aware of it. He wasn't able to get it back in place, especially out of the stretch.”
In the third, the Brewers began the inning with four straight hits off Liriano in a stretch of eight pitches. Back-to-back doubles by Jonathan Lucroy and Aramis Ramirez increased the Brewers' lead to 5-2. Ramirez scored on an RBI groundout, and Yuniesky Betancourt raced home on a wild pitch to push the lead to 7-2. In the second inning, Liriano allowed his first home run in 29 innings, to Khris Davis.
“I was just missing my spots,” Liriano said.
In the fifth, the Pirates' threat to get back in the hunt for win No. 82 was quickly extinguished. Andrew McCutchen led off with his 19th homer, cutting the Brewers lead to 7-3. McCutchen struggled to see the ball off his bat, and he paused exiting the batter's box.
Brewers starter Wily Peralta apparently took McCutchen's pause as an act of showmanship. Peralta's next pitch hit Justin Morneau, who took exception to the high fastball inches below his head. Benches and bullpens emptied, but there was no further escalation.
“I'm sure that's the last thing he was trying to do,” McCutchen said of Peralta. “People said he showed a little frustration.”
Marlon Byrd, who is 12 for 31 since last week's trade to the Pirates, doubled to the left-center gap. Despite Morneau's below-average speed, third base coach Nick Leyva sent Morneau home. Morneau was thrown out for the first out of the inning. Pedro Alvarez struck out, and John Buck flied out.
The Pirates' other opportunity came in the seventh, when Buck came to bat with the bases loaded and two outs. But rather than pinch-hit with a left-hander, Hurdle let Buck face right-hander Donovan Hand. Buck flied out.
The Pirates called upon their club-record 28th pitcher of the season in the sixth when Stolmy Pimentel made his major league debut. Jason Grilli made his first appearance since July 22 in the eighth. He allowed a leadoff hit to Aoki, but nothing else. His fastball sat between 91-93 mph in a scoreless inning.