Pirates swept in Milwaukee, fall to .500 heading into Cincinnati
MILWAUKEE — Neither starting pitcher made very many mistakes Sunday.
However, the Milwaukee Brewers made the most of the few slip-ups they saw from Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton and rolled to a 4-1 victory and a series sweep at Miller Park.
The Brewers (10-2) have won nine games in a row and own the best record in the majors. The Pirates (6-6) have lost four of their past five and limp into Cincinnati on Monday for another early-season NL Central showdown.
Brewers right-hander Kyle Lohse (2-1) scattered four hits, all singles, over 82⁄3 innings. He got nine strikeouts, reaching that mark for only the fifth time in his 14-year career.
“We hit a number of balls hard, but we don't have anything to show for it,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Morton (0-1) worked seven innings and allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits. He walked three and struck out three.
“When (Morton) put a fastball up, they covered it,” Hurdle said. “We didn't do as good of a job as them. They covered every (high) fastball and made us pay. We've got to keep working on staying stubborn with our approach.”
Neither team had a hit until Martin Maldonado led off the bottom of the third with a double. Lohse bunted him to third.
The Pirates pulled in their infield, but Carlos Gomez lifted a sacrifice fly to right field. Jose Tabata's throw never had a chance to get Maldonado.
A perfectly executed run-and-hit helped the Pirates tie it in the fourth. Starling Marte led off with a single. Shortstop Jean Segura covered the bag when Marte broke for second, and Jose Tabata lined a single through the hole. Marte went to third and scored on Andrew McCutchen's sacrifice fly.
The Pirates never had another runner make it as far as second base. Lohse retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced and improved to 10-2 in his career against the Pirates.
“That was one of the best I've seen him throw, as far as mixing four pitches in all locations,” said Neil Walker, who went 0 for 3 including a strikeout. “He mixed in sinkers, cutters, changeups, working that breaking ball on odd counts. He had everything working.”
The Brewers quickly regained the lead. Ryan Braun doubled down the first base line to start the bottom of the fourth.
He scored on Aramis Ramirez's single.
“Braun stayed with the pitch and went with it,” Morton said. “Ramirez got to a sinker. It wasn't a bad pitch, down and in. I don't know if he was cheating or if he just got to it, but he hit it really well.”
An errant throw by catcher Tony Sanchez gave the Brewers two unearned runs in the sixth.
With one out, Ramirez walked and Lyle Overbay doubled. Scooter Gennett struck out on a curveball and the ball got away from Sanchez. As Gennett ran to first base, Sanchez's throw sailed into right field. Ramirez and Overbay scored.
“I flew open with my front shoulder. Kind of rushed it,” Sanchez said. “I butchered a routine play and that can't happen in that situation.”
The day before, Sanchez was on the field for early work and was drilled on making throws to the bases.
“We work the catchers all the time on that exact play,” Hurdle said. “Tony just didn't finish a play.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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