For the Pirates to have much of a chance to return to contention in 2011 they needed to start off strongly in this series with Milwaukee. Zach Greinke made sure that didn’t happen.
Milwaukee caught some breaks to pile on a lead against Paul Maholm. In the second Casey McGehee singled and could have potentially been erased on a double play comebacker from Yuniesky Betancourt. But Maholm bobbled the batted ball off Betancourt’s bat and settle for a safe out at first. Josh Wilson floated a soft liner that landed about 20 feet in the grass just beyond the reach of Neil Walker to score the first run of the game.
Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder singled with two outs in the third. Casey McGehee flicked an outside pitch just inside the right field foul line. It went for a triple and two RBI, making it 3-0 Beer Makers.
In the fifth, Corey Hart’s grounder to third eluded Pedro Alvarez for a two base error. Jerry Hairston’s ground ball out to first moved Hairston to third. He scored on a sac fly from Braun to make it 4-0.
At this point, if things had gone well, it was conceivable that Maholm couldn’t been unscathed. He wasn’t. The one who was was Zack Greinke. He walked none and had surrendered three meager singles until the eighth. Ronny Cedeno singled and was doubled in by Michael McKenry. Andrew McCuchen followed with a double that knocked in McKenry and knocked Greinke from the game. Francisco Rodriguez was summoned and he retired Xavier Paul to end the inning.
After two perfect innings from Jason Grilli in relief of Maholm, Joe Beimel started the eight for Pittsburgh. Milwaukee immediately got those two runs back. Braun led off with a homer. Fielder followed with another to make it 6-2. Jose Veras was called on. He gave up a single to Betancourt and a double to Jonathan Lucroy to make it 7-2. It stayed that way as Kameron Loe pitched a perfect ninth to end it.
Maholm gave up four runs (three earned) in five innings. He walked none and struck out none. He allowed four hits. Greinke gave up two runs in 7-2/3 innings. He gave up six hits and also walked one. He whiffed nine.
McKenry had two hits.
Grilli was sharp.
Pirate pitchers gave up no walks.
Losing to Milwaukee when a sweep is badly needed to get back in the race. I suppose I’m hoping against hope.
Scoring only two runs.
Whiffing ten times as a team.
Maholm is 0-2 in 2011 and just 3-8 lifetime against Milwaukee. Greinke moves to 3-0 lifetime against Pittsburgh.
How odd is it to see Josh Wilson getting at bats in games that are significant? Back in 2008 he couldn’t get out of AAA Indy for Pittsburgh. Backing up Jack Wilson that year were rookies Luis Cruz and Brian Bixler and veterans Luis Rivas and Chris Gomez, neither of whom has appeared in The Show since that season.
Braun’s homer was the 150th of his career.
Rodriguez singled in the eighth for the first of his career. He did not pitch the ninth because he tweaked his leg/got leg cramps running out the hit.
McGehee has two triples in 2011, making this the first season that he has ever had more than one triple.
Beimel had not given up back-to-back homers since July 24, 2002 against Cincinnati when Todd Walker and Kelly Stinnett homered off him in consecutive at bats. That game on 7/24/02 was the last of Beimel’s 23 career starts.
This was the eighth game in 2011 that Pirate pitchers gave up no free passes. They had ten such games in 2010.