MILWAUKEE – The Pirates are off to their best start in seven years, but beating the Brewers will have to wait.
The Pirates fell to their nemesis again, this time, 10-5, on Monday night to extend their losing streak to the Brewers to 13 in a row dating to last May.
It was also the Pirates’ 16th consecutive loss at Miller Park, Both streaks lead the majors for active futility against one opponent.
This one wasn’t as lopsided as many of their recent meetings, as the Pirates fought back from a 5-2 deficit to tie the game in the eighth, before the Brewers scored five runs in the bottom of the inning to pull away in front of 32,198 fans.
Nyjer Morgan went 2 for 4 with three runs scored, Freddy Sanchez was 2 for 4 with two RBI and Andy LaRoche increased his hitting streak to 11 games.
The Brewers took a 5-2 lead after four innings on homers by Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks and Mike Cameron. But the Pirates showed resolve, tying the game at 5-all on Sanchez’s two-out, two-run double in the eighth inning.
The Pirates bullpen wavered and the Brewers answered with five runs in the bottom of the eighth off reliever Tyler Yates and John Grabow.
“I’m proud of the way we came back,” manager John Russell said. “It’s unfortunate we gave up five runs in the eighth inning. Other than that it was a pretty solid game.”
The go-ahead run scored when Bill Hall, who had walked to lead off the eighth, scored on Weeks’ sharp grounder to Sanchez and a drawn-in infield. Sanchez’s throw had no chance, and the Brewers led 6-5. A double by Corey Hart and a two-run single by Prince Fielder off Grabow and a sacrifice fly built it to 10-5.
“I committed the Cardinal Sin,” Yates said. “I walked the lead-off batter. I didn’t make him earn it. I gave it to him.”
It was only the third loss in the past 10 games for the Pirates, who have clinched their first winning April in seven years despite a rash of recent, high-profile injuries.
Trevor Hoffman, activated from the DL on Sunday, made his first appearance with the Brewers after 16 seasons with the Padres. He retired the side in order in the ninth.
Yates (0-1) took the loss in relief, while Todd Coffey (1-0) got the win.
“It was a great comeback,” Russell said. “I thought we had a lot of chances early that we didn’t capitalize on. Freddy came up with the big hit.
“We brought the guys in that we rely on heavily all the time and just didn’t get it done tonight. Tyler and John are two guys that we will go to every time in that situation and most times they come through all right. It was just one of those nights.”