MLB

Sat, Aug 25, 2012 - 7:05 PM ET
 

Brewers-Pirates Preview

Share This Story

   
 

The Pittsburgh Pirates were right on the NL Central leaders' tail earlier this month and held a comfortable lead for the league's second wild-card spot.

Now their postseason grip is gone - and they're on the verge of being closer to the fourth-place Milwaukee Brewers than first.

Another loss Saturday night would match the Pirates' longest skid of 2012 at five, while the visiting Brewers hope the return of right-hander Shaun Marcum can help them win a season-high fifth straight game.

Pittsburgh (67-58) led the Central at the All-Star break and was only 2 1/2 games behind Cincinnati as recently as Aug. 8 while holding a 3 1/2-game lead on St. Louis for the NL's second wild-card berth.

Just 17 days later the Pirates are in third place, two games behind the Cardinals for that final playoff spot. Friday's 6-5 loss to Milwaukee kept them eight back of the Reds, and with another loss Saturday they'll match their five-game skid from April 10-14 and be closer to the Brewers (58-66) than the division leaders.

Friday's loss nearly turned much worse. Andrew McCutchen slammed his left knee into the outfield wall trying to make a catch in the seventh inning but remained in the game.

"When you're not playing your best baseball and just give up a big hit, the last thing you want is your best player to go down and get hurt,'' catcher Rod Barajas said. "We were very fortunate it wasn't a bigger deal.''

Pittsburgh's starters have posted a 4.98 ERA in August - nearly a run higher than their 4.03 ERA in the season's first four months - and awful starts have been the primary problem. The Pirates have fallen behind in 19 of their 22 games this month, surrendering first-inning runs 14 times.

Jeff Karstens (4-3, 3.79 ERA) has been the best of that struggling rotation in August, going 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in four outings. He held St. Louis to two runs and two hits over seven innings Sunday in the Pirates' 6-3, 19-inning win.

Karstens is 2-1 with a 2.12 ERA in five starts at PNC Park this season, and he might need to put up some zeroes to beat Milwaukee. The right-hander is 0-5 with a 4.21 ERA in eight career starts against the Brewers, receiving a total of three runs of support while losing his past four.

Milwaukee counters with Marcum (5-3, 3.39), who will step onto a major league mound for the first time since developing stiffness in his surgically repaired elbow June 14 at Kansas City.

"He's a free agent after the season, and I think that's a time he needs to show people he can pitch," manager Ron Roenicke told the team's official website. "We all know he can pitch - I've been watching him for a year and a half."

The Pirates have seen enough evidence. Marcum held them to a run and five hits over seven innings while fanning eight in a 5-1 home win June 2 - the third time in five career starts against Pittsburgh he's gone that deep without allowing more than a run.

He's certainly fooling two of the Pirates' best hitters. McCutchen is 2 for 11 against Marcum while Neil Walker is 1 for 14.

Ryan Braun went 0 for 2 but walked three times Friday to raise his 2012 on-base percentage against Pittsburgh to .545, while Corey Hart continued his recent surge with three hits. The first baseman is hitting .424 (14 for 33) with 11 RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak.

It might be tough to extend that run Saturday. Hart is 2 for 19 lifetime against Karstens.

Tagged: Brewers, Pirates, Shaun Marcum, Jeff Karstens

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



MLB Videos

Bautista talks Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Jose Bautista discusses Derek Jeter's career and his final appearance in the MLB...

Jeter honored to play in last All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Derek Jeter compares his first All-Star Game experience with his last, Mike Trou...

Matheny defends Wainwright: He's out there to compete Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Mike Matheny comments on the media's reaction to Adam Wainwright's joke about le...

SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..