MILWAUKEE – The Pirates have lost to many teams in many ballparks during their 16-year losing skid.
But there is nothing like Miller Park.
The Pirates frittered away a four-run lead – with ace Paul Maholm on the mound – and saw their miseries against the Milwaukee Brewers continued with a 6-5 loss on Tuesday night.
“It’s tough to play here,” Maholm said. “But we’ve got to get over it. We’ve got to win.”
The Pirates’ losing streak against the Brewers extended to 14 games in a row dating to last May and 17 in a row at Miller Park, dating to May 2007.
Their struggles mark the longest losing streak on the road against the same opponent by any major league team in at least two decades. The Mariners lost 16 in a row at Oakland from 1990-93.
One night after allowing five runs in the eighth inning of a 10-5 loss, the Pirates blew a 5-1 lead in the fifth inning.
“This team is swinging the bat very well right now,” Pirates manager John Russell said of the Brewers, who added to their NL-leading home run total. “If you make mistakes, they are going to hit them hard.”
Trailing 5-3, the Brewers homered twice during a three-run sixth-inning – one by Bill Hart off Maholm and a two-run drive by Rickie Weeks off reliever Jesse Chavez (0-1) – to take a 6-5 lead.
“I made a mistake,” Chavez said of his 93-mph fastball that Weeks lined over the left-field fence. “It’s unacceptable.”
The Pirates failed to reach base in the the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Ramon Vazquez led off the ninth with a single off Trevor Hoffman, but the major’s all-time save leader got Freddy Sanchez to ground into a game-ending double play for his first save with the Brewers.
Jorge Julio (1-0) got the win for the Brewers, who have won six of their past seven.
The three-game series concludes at 1:05 p.m. today when Ian Snell (1-2) meets Yovani Gallardo (2-1).
“We just have to bear down and hang in there,” outfielder Nyjer Morgan said. “We have dig a little deeper. It’s a long season. There are going to be many other times where we will be in this situation.”
By John Grupp