Morton stumbles against Crew, Bucs can't recover
Righty gives up five runs; Pirates can't capitalize on Brewers' errors
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates couldn't hold an early lead and fell to the Brewers, 5-3, on Friday night, as Milwaukee right-hander Kyle Lohse upped his career record against Pittsburgh to 11-2.
Lohse tossed 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits. He overcame four errors by the Brewers to improve to 3-1 on the season.
"It was an ugly, terribly-played game," said Brewers first baseman Mark Reynolds, who was charged with an error during the first inning while colliding with third baseman Aramis Ramirez on a pop fly near the pitcher's mound. "You have to credit Lohse for pitching around all of the [trouble] we caused for him."
"I kind of pride myself on being able to take myself out of the moment and just make pitches," Lohse said. "The way that first inning went, that first [error on Reynolds], that's part on me, because I didn't direct traffic as well as I should have. After that, you try to minimize the damage."
Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton was tagged for five runs on eight hits in six innings of work. He took the loss, falling to 0-2.
"Timing his delivery, he lost his repeatable delivery that he has," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Morton's effort. "The timing was off, he spun out of his delivery a couple times. Very solid first three innings, and then you saw the challenges that came up in the fourth, fifth and a little bit in the sixth. He just had to battle. The fourth inning was a hard one for him. There was a tale of two Charlies tonight -- the first three innings and the second three innings."
Morton was disappointed with the outing.
"Not making pitches when I needed to make pitches, especially in that fourth inning. There was a huge momentum shift in that inning, and they put three runs up on the board. That fourth inning, that's crucial to execute pitches, and I didn't.
"Some of the strikes I was throwing were misses, even the ones they weren't swinging at. [I was] trying to work a sinker in and pulling it across the zone. It's just basic execution."
The Pirates jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, when leadoff batter Starling Marte reached first on Reynolds' error, stole second and reached third on a throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. He then scored on a ground out by Russell Martin.
The Pirates made it 2-0 in the bottom of the third. Jordy Mercer hit a leadoff single and advanced to second on a bunt by Morton. After Marte singled Mercer to third, Martin dropped a soft RBI single to center to drive him in.
Mercer was replaced by Clint Barmes in the top of the fourth inning. He was spiked in his right leg in the third by Maldonado, who had walked and was forced out at second base when Lohse attempted to move him over with a bunt.
"He clipped me with his spikes," Mercer said after the game. "I wasn't cut. It's just a bad bruise, it is very sore. We'll see how it feels tomorrow."
The Brewers took the lead with three runs in the top of the fourth inning on a two-run double by Scooter Gennett and an RBI single by Maldonado.
Milwaukee upped its lead to 4-2 in the top of the fifth inning when Carlos Gomez smacked a solo home run off Morton. It was his fifth of the season.
The Brewers nicked Morton for another run in the top of the sixth. Reynolds singled, and one out later, Maldonado hit what appeared to be a routine grounder to Pedro Alvarez at third, until it was discovered that he literally hit the cover off the ball. Alvarez threw the shredded ball toward first, it came up well short and Maldonado had an infield single. Reynolds then scored on an RBI single by Gomez, giving the Brewers a 5-2 lead.
"Never, ever have seen that before," Hurdle said of the cover coming off the baseball. "I know one thing -- it is tough to throw the ball when that happens."
The Bucs sliced the lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning on an RBI double by Andrew McCutchen.
The Pirates mounted a couple of late-inning rallies, but could not break through against the Brewers' bullpen. They had a bases-loaded threat in the eighth, but came up empty. The Brewers used Tyler Thornburg, Will Smith, Jim Henderson and Francisco Rodriguez to hold the Bucs in check. Rodriguez notched his fifth save.
"We weren't able to execute the at-bats," Hurdle lamented. "I think we hit a couple balls hard. We just weren't able to get that at-bat when we needed it tonight, repeatedly."