Sloppy Brewers defense leads to 8-3 loss to Pirates

May 5, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; The Milwaukee Brewers logo on the field behind home plate prior to the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

May 5, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; The Milwaukee Brewers logo on the field behind home plate prior to the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers made three infield errors, leading to five unearned runs as the Pittsburgh Pirates ran away with an 8-3 victory Friday evening at Miller Park before 37,000 fans.

The Brewers (71-56) came into tonight’s game holding a slim game and a half lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. They had beaten Pittsburgh ten of 13 times this season, including five of six at home. The Pirates (65-62) began the evening in third place in the National League Central, six games out.

Yovani Gallardo (8-6, 3.32 ERA) made the start for the Brewers, just eight strikeouts behind Ben Sheets‘ team career record of 1206 whiffs. The Bucs trotted out southpaw Jeff Locke (4-3, 3.73 ERA) to begin the contest.

Gallardo struck out two batters in the first to move his career total to an even 1200, keeping the Pirates scoreless despite a Jean Segura error.

Ryan Braun gave the home team a 2-0 lead when he hammered a home run into the netting in the Brewers’ bullpen to score Jonathan Lucroy, who reached on a one-out walk in the bottom half of the first. The jack was Braun’s 16th of the year and only his second since July 24.

The Pirates grabbed a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second on just one hit. Russell Martin reached on a throwing error by Aramis Ramirez and then Gaby Sanchez and Starling Marte both walked to load the bases. Jordy Mercer delivered one run with a sacrifice fly to deep center. Locke struck out after failing on a pair of bunt attempts before Josh Harrison drove a ball to deep right off the wall that Braun just missed, scoring two runs.

Harrison got picked off second to end the inning.

Pittsburgh added a run in the third to bump the lead to 4-2. Andrew McCutcheon reached on a one-out infield single and scored on a Neil Walker triple down the first base line. Martin walked to put runners on the corners before Gallardo induced a 4-3 double play to end the frame.

Marte led off the fourth with a line drive single to left and moved to second on a slow roller to third. Locke struck out looking for the second out, but Harrison knocked in his third run of the game with a liner to center and advanced to second as Carlos Gomez tried for the runner at home. Travis Snider grounded out to end the inning with the Brewers looking at a 5-2 deficit.

Ramirez walked with one out to end Locke’s string of eight consecutive retired and then moved to third on Rickie Weeks‘ two-out double down the left field line. Both runners were stranded as Mark Reynolds flied to left to end the fourth.

McCutcheon made it 6-2 with his 18th home run of the year to the right-center field Toyota Territory in the top of the fifth before Gallardo retired the next two batters on a grounder and foul-out. Sanchez and Marte reached on base hits to give the Buccos runners on first and second, but Mercer grounded into a forceout.

Segura opened the bottom of the fifth with a walk before Gallardo flied to right for the first out. Gomez fouled to first and Segura was doubled off as he was off with the pitch and couldn’t make it back in time.

Marco Estrada came in to face the Pirates in the top of the sixth, as Gallardo left after five. He allowed eight hits and six runs, three earned. Yo struck out four and walked three, ending the night with 1202 career Ks.

In the bottom of the sixth, Ramirez and Khris Davis walked with two outs. Weeks then hit a chopper to Mercer in the hole and the shortstop fired to third, getting an ‘out’ call from third base umpire Will Little.

Brewer manager Ron Roenicke came out to call for a challenge, and after a long period of over two and one-half minutes, the call on the field stood, although it appeared on the replays that Ramirez beat the throw as Harrison seemed to miss the bag before the runner’s foot touched the base.

Jared Hughes came on for the Pirates in the bottom of the seventh, as Locke left after six innings. Locke allowed just two hits and two runs, both earned. He walked six and failed to strike out a batter.

Lyle Overbay rapped a single through the box to give the Brewers a two-out base runner. Gomez then hit a smash up the middle that deflected off Hughes’ glove over to Harrison, who threw out Gomez on a bang-bang play.

The Pirates added a pair of runs in the top of the eighth with Harrison’s two-out two-run homer–his 11th of the season–that just cleared the wall in left field to give the visitors an 8-2 lead.

Ex-Brewer John Axford came on for the Pirates in the bottom of the eighth.

With one out, Braun and Ramirez dumped singles to right to give Milwaukee runners on first and second. After Davis struck out, Weeks ripped a ball between first and second to knock in Braun to cut the lead to 8-3. Reynolds bounced out to end the threat.

After a scoreless ninth for the Pirates, the Brewers managed to put runners on first and second with one out against Justin Wilson, the Pirates fourth pitcher, but a flyout and groundout sent the crowd home unhappy. Locke earned the win and Gallardo took a hard-luck loss, with three unearned runs charged to his line.

The Cardinals lost to Philadelphia, 5-4, so the Brewers maintained their 1 1/2 game lead in the N.L. Central.

The two teams meet tomorrow evening, with Edinson Volquez (10-7) facing the Brewers’ Wily Peralta (15-7).

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