Brewers earn 17th straight win over Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates can only hope that one losing streak of 17 doesn't lead to another.
J.J. Hardy broke out of a slump by driving in four runs on three hits and the Milwaukee Brewers won 8-5 on Tuesday night for their 17th consecutive victory over the Pirates, the majors' longest winning streak by one team against another in nearly 40 years.
No team has dominated another like this since Baltimore won 23 consecutive games against Kansas City during the 1969 (11) and 1970 (12) seasons. The Pirates haven't beaten the Brewers since May 22, 2008, and won't get another chance until July 20 in Pittsburgh.
"It's frustrating - that's all I've got for you," outfielder Brandon Moss said. "It's frustrating."
The Pirates must have a winning record to avoid a 17th consecutive losing season, which would be a record for any team in major American pro sports. The Brewers are 5-0 against them this season.
"There's not much you can say, they've had our number and you try to put that in the past, but then they've beat us every time this year," Freddy Sanchez said. "You can't say much about it - just try to get them the next time."
The superstitious Brewers barely discussed the streak.
"What do I think of that? We're going to Cincinnati (to play Wednesday)," manager Ken Macha said.
Hardy was 3 of 27 before reaching base four times on two run-scoring singles, an RBI double and a walk to help Milwaukee open a 6-2 lead in the sixth behind Jeff Suppan (2-2).
Earlier Tuesday, Hardy was reminded during a radio interview that he was 2 of 25 with runners in scoring position. He promptly went 3 of 3 with runners on base.
"When hits are hard to come by, it's nice to get them with people on base," said Hardy, who raised his average from .167 to .195. "I felt like I was doing horrible, but I just heard the stats tonight. I knew I wasn't getting any hits."
Suppan labored through 5 2-3 innings to improve to 13-3 against the Pirates and 6-0 in his last eight starts against them despite permitting five hits, three runs and walked three.
Pirates starter Ian Snell (1-4) struggled even more in losing to Milwaukee for the second time in seven days. He was pulled after 94 pitches, 37 fewer than he threw during a 1-0 loss to the Brewers last Wednesday. He gave up five runs and four hits and walked five in five-plus innings.
Snell wouldn't criticize manager John Russell for allowing him to throw so many pitches in his previous start, but said he's never been so stiff and sore.
"That's all I had. I didn't feel like I had anything over 94-95 (mph) in my tank at all," Snell said. "I tried my best and that's all I can do. I'm not going to make any excuses. ... I just started walking people and it got out of hand."
Making it worse for the Pirates, a cold, misty rain fell during a slow-paced night created by 17 walks and numerous 3-ball counts, chasing home most in the crowd of 9,775 long before the game ended after 3 hours, 35 minutes.
Any game against the Brewers seems destined to be a long night for the Pirates, who have lost seven of eight overall. They went 1-4 on a five-game homestand against the Reds and Brewers.
The Pirates led 1-0 in the first on Sanchez's third homer. Milwaukee tied it on Hardy's RBI single in the second. Hardy had a two-run double that made it 3-1 in the fourth.
The Brewers scored three times in the sixth on Hardy's two-run single and reliever Jesse Chavez's bases-loaded walk to Rickie Weeks.
Carlos Villanueva pitched the ninth for his third save in six opportunities.
Brewers LF Ryan Braun (upper back) returned to the lineup after not starting three games. ... 3B Bill Hall, who replaced Braun in LF on Monday only to be lifted in the second inning, was held out with tightness in his right hamstring. ... Pirates closer Matt Capps (right elbow irritation) won't pitch during a two-game series in St. Louis. ... Despite the streak, the Brewers are 27-43 in PNC Park - the most losses there of any NL team.