PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers started their eight-game road trip coming off a homestand that saw them win six of seven, giving them a 1 1/2-game lead in the National League Central.After dropping Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader with the Pirates at PNC Park, 6-2, Milwaukee has lost a season-high five
PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers started their eight-game road trip coming off a homestand that saw them win six of seven, giving them a 1 1/2-game lead in the National League Central.
After dropping Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader with the Pirates at PNC Park, 6-2, Milwaukee has lost a season-high five straight games and six of its last seven. The Brewers also lost the lead in the NL Central and are now 1 1/2 games behind the Cubs.
"You have to weather these kind of things, and you'll go through these types of stretches," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "You don't want to, but you're going to go through them. We have to weather it, and we can do that by playing a good game [in the finale]."
Much of Milwaukee's recent struggles have stemmed from a failure to manufacture offensive production. The Brewers went 4-for-21 with runners in position during Saturday's doubleheader. They've gone a combined 10-for-53 with RISP over their five-game losing streak while being outscored 26-13.
"We're not scoring runs," Counsell said. "Game 2, we struggled. We just didn't get any hits when we had men in scoring position. We had quite a few opportunities, actually. We just hit a bunch of singles today. We had singles and walks today. And then we just didn't get extra-base hits. Every offense needs extra-base hits, some kind of extra-base hits, to produce runs. And we got two extra-base hits in two games."
The Brewers were in desperate need of an extra-base hit when Jesus Aguilar came to bat with two outs and the bases loaded and the club down six in the ninth inning. Aguilar grinded through a 10-pitch at-bat before floating a two-run single to shallow center field to avoid Milwaukee's 11th shutout loss this season. Travis Shaw then came to the plate with runners on the corners and struck out on three pitches against Felipe Vazquez to end the game.
The Brewers have yet to play with the lead over the past four games with the Pirates. A pair of early Pittsburgh home runs proved to be the difference in Game 1, and the long ball forced Milwaukee to play from behind once again in Game 2.
In the third inning, Brent Suter left an 87.9-mph fastball over the middle of the plate that Max Moroff cranked to left field for a leadoff homer. The home run was the only blemish for Suter in his return from the 10-day disabled list, as he allowed just one more hit -- a David Freese single in the fourth inning -- and finished with three strikeouts over five innings.
"Felt good," Suter said. "Fastball command maybe wasn't as great as I would want it to be, but offspeed felt fine out of my hand. [I] felt healthy, and just responded well. So good on that front for sure."
Right-hander Jeremy Jeffress and lefty Dan Jennings each allowed one earned run over two combined innings, but the Pirates' offense exploded for three home runs -- including back-to-back jacks from Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco -- off Aaron Wilkerson in the eighth to open up a six-run lead.
Despite their recent skid, the tone around the clubhouse remains highly optimistic that they can break out of their funk going into the break.
"We're in a good spot here," Counsell said. "This hasn't taken away from the bulk of the season. We're in a tough little stretch right now. We're scuffling offensively a little bit, but we're going to head in the break in a good place. One-hundred percent we're going to head into the break in a good place."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Overly aggressive: Trailing by two in the seventh, the Brewers appeared to be putting themselves in a favorable position when Hernan Perez lined a single to left field with Jonathan Villar on first that would've put two on with nobody out. However, Villar rounded second base and was thrown out at third for the first out of the inning. Perez stole second in the ensuing at-bat, but Jacob Nottingham and Brad Miller struck out to end the inning.
"It's not a good play," Counsell said. "He's being aggressive, but it's in a situation when you're losing and it's the first out, you've got to be conservative in those situations. So that was a mistake."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
After making a five-star catch, according to Statcast™, in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader, center fielder Lorenzo Cain flashed the leather again in Game 2. With one out and a runner on second base, Polanco went down and connected on a 1-2 pitch to drive it to right-center field. Cain ran back and to the left to track down the ball, preventing a run-scoring extra-base hit.
HE SAID IT
"It's just one of those ruts that's going to happen. But we're going to come out tomorrow, because what's happened has happened. We can't do anything about what's happened. They've played some good ballgames over there. But what we can do is come out tomorrow and control and compete until the very last out tomorrow." -- Suter, on the Brewers' rough stretch
Jhoulys Chacin will start for the Brewers on Sunday as they close out a five-game series with the Pirates at PNC Park before heading into the All-Star Break. Chacin has won each of his last two starts, and he has also fared well against Pittsburgh this season. In 12 1/3 innings, the right-hander has allowed two earned runs. Righty Joe Musgrove (3-4, 3.77 ERA) will start for the Pirates. The game is set for 12:35 p.m. CT.
Mason Wittner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.