MILWAUKEE — A game that started out promising quickly turned ugly for the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
With an eerie haze hovering over Miller Park throughout the night, the Brewers turned in one of their worst performances of the season. Despite an early two-run home run from Ryan Braun, a sloppy defensive performance and a lackluster outing from Yovani Gallardo led to Milwaukee’s 8-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in front of 37,437 fans.
"It wasn’t a good game," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We played poor on defense and didn’t pitch well. Offense was OK. We didn’t get a lot of hits off Locke but we had a lot of base-runners out there we just didn’t get the big hit when we needed it. Braunie got the big one in the first inning but after that, we didn’t get one."
Thanks to three errors, the Brewers allowed a season-high five unearned runs Friday, including three in the second inning. With Milwaukee leading 2-0, Aramis Ramirez airmailed a throw to Mark Reynolds at first base to allow Russell Martin to reach to start the second.
Gallardo then issued back-to-back walks to Gaby Sanchez and Starling Marte to load the bases. A sacrifice fly from Jordy Mercer cut Milwaukee’s lead to 2-1, but the big blow came when Braun couldn’t corral a deep fly ball off the bat of Josh Harrison. It turned into a two-out, two-run double to put Pittsburgh up 3-2.
"The command wasn’t there, especially in that second inning," Gallardo said. "I was not throwing balls where I wanted to, and obviously they were up in the zone. Those kind of things can’t happen."
Although it went down as a hit, Rickie Weeks couldn’t get the ball out of his glove on a ball hit by Andrew McCutchen with one out in the third. McCutchen quickly scored on a triple hit into the left-field corner by Neil Walker.
The Pirates added another run on a two-out, RBI single from Harrison in the fourth and made it 6-2 on a 438-foot opposite-field blast by McCutchen that hit off the car on top of the Toyota Territory in right-center field.
"Yovani didn’t throw the ball well but we never really gave him a chance to get into a rhythm," Roenicke said. "The first five runs they scored, we gave to them. You can’t do that. I don’t know how he would have pitched. It would have interesting to see what would have happened if he was able to get into a rhythm. Unfortunately, we didn’t make plays and he never got the chance."
Gallardo admitted it was tough to get into a rhythm Friday, but he wasn’t about to blame his rough outing on plays that weren’t made behind him.
"No matter the situation is, I still have to be out there making pitches," Gallardo said. "I was able to get two outs in the second inning and threw a fastball up in the zone to Harrison. I just have to keep the ball down in the zone no matter what happens behind me and keep doing that throughout the game."
The Pirates tacked on two more unearned runs in the eighth, as Jean Segura’s second error of the game allowed Marte to reach to start the inning. With two outs, Harrison blasted a two-run homer off Brandon Kintzler to give him a career-high five RBI on the night.
Despite Locke walking six batters over his six innings of work, the Brewers didn’t score off the left-hander after Braun’s first-inning homer. Milwaukee drew eight free passes Friday but managed just three hits outside of a three-hit eighth inning in which it plated its third run of the game.
The Brewers entered winners of five of their last six, while the Pirates had dropped seven of eight. It is hard to explain why the roles reversed Friday night, but Milwaukee hopes to quickly erase the taste of its poor performance away quickly.
"That’s what we have to do," Gallardo said. "We all know that. Every guy in this clubhouse understands games like that are going to happen. It is just a matter of moving on and preparing for the game the following day."
Replay concerns: In addition to not being pleased with his team’s play on the field, Roenicke was perturbed with an instant replay which did not go the way of the Brewers on Friday.
With two outs and runners at first and second in the sixth, Rickie Weeks hit a grounder into the hole between the shortstop and third base. Shortstop Jordy Mercer’s only play was to third, but Harrison’s foot was not on the bag when he caught the ball as Aramis Ramirez slid in.
Roenicke was convinced Harrison stepped on the bag after Ramirez did, but third-base umpire Will Little disagreed and called the veteran third baseman out.
"He was safe," Roenicke said. "That’s what bothers me about replay; if we’re going to do replay, slow it down and get all these angles, then get the play right. It would have given us bases-loaded with (Mark) Reynolds coming up. They told us they could piece together from two different angles. If you piece together two different angles, he’s safe and it’s easy to see."
While the Pirates led 6-2 at the time, reversing the call on the field would have given the Brewers the bases loaded for Reynolds in a situation in which one swing from the power-hitting first baseman would have tied the game.
"I’m going to check on it," Roenicke said. "When we went to New York, they told us what they could do and then they don’t do it. I don’t understand that part. I do understand it, I just don’t get why they don’t get it right."