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Pirates' bullpen falters in late loss to Brewers

Special to MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Kyle Crick had pitched in plenty of late-game situations in his brief big league career, but Saturday night marked the first time -- at least by Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's recollection -- that the right-hander came into a game in the seventh inning with the game tied.

Unfortunately, it didn't go nearly as well as Crick had envisioned.

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MILWAUKEE -- Kyle Crick had pitched in plenty of late-game situations in his brief big league career, but Saturday night marked the first time -- at least by Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's recollection -- that the right-hander came into a game in the seventh inning with the game tied.

Unfortunately, it didn't go nearly as well as Crick had envisioned.

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The 24-year-old was part of a Pirates bullpen meltdown in their 5-3 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park. Crick gave up two runs (one earned) on three walks and a hit over two-thirds of an inning, while George Kontos gave up the game-winning double to Ryan Braun.

"Maybe things sped up on him a little bit," Hurdle said of Crick, "because his command has been much better than that throughout the season to this point."

In nine previous appearances this season, Crink had walked just one batter, back on April 16, which was his second outing after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. Since then, he'd worked 5 2/3 innings without issuing a free pass while striking out 10 along the way.

Crick inherited a 1-1 game from Edgar Santana when he came on in the seventh inning. He issued walks to two of the first four batters he faced, before Christian Yelich drove in the go-ahead run. Lorenzo Cain later scored on a passed ball.

"I felt OK," Crick said. "My fastball was cutting and it was kind of hard to locate. … [Catcher Francisco Cervelli] would set up in and I'd miss away. That's where those wild pitches came from."

Crick admitted there was adrenaline but didn't think it affected his work.

"I just have to handle it better," Crick said. "I don't really think of the score [when coming into a game], it's just about executing my pitches. Today was one of those days that I didn't execute as well as I could have."

The Pirates were given new life, though, by Starling Marte's two-run home run in the eighth inning, which tied the game at 3. That wouldn't last long, though. Kontos recorded two quick outs in the bottom of the inning before allowing a double to Domingo Santana and walk to Eric Sogard. That brought up Braun, who ripped a 2-2 slider into the left-center-field gap.

Video: PIT@MIL: Marte cranks game-tying 2-run homer to right

"We haven't had that type of situation where the walks have been an issue out of the bullpen," Hurdle said. "For whatever reason tonight, they were."

The late-inning struggles erased what had been an effective, though not quite crisp, start from Jameson Taillon, who held Milwaukee to a run on six hits and a pair of walks while striking out one over five innings. He put runners in scoring position in each of his first three innings but managed to leave them stranded.

Taillon needed 33 pitches to get through the fourth inning, during which he allowed a run, and Hurdle opted to take him out after a 1-2-3 fifth and 85 pitches.

"I felt at that time that he'd gotten us to a part of the game that we could navigate and get through and he still comes out with some building blocks for the next start," Hurdle said.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Don't test Frazier: Cain picked up his second hit of the day with a one-out single in the second and moved to third on a base hit by Yelich. Jesus Aguilar followed with a fly ball to shallow center that second baseman Adam Frazier backpedaled to catch. Cain took a chance and headed home, but Frazier's throw to Cervelli arrived just in time to apply the tag for adouble play, ending the inning and keeping the game scoreless.

Video: PIT@MIL: Frazier cuts down Cain at home to turn two

Bucs get to Hader: Milwaukee took a 3-1 lead in the seventh and with Josh Hader coming on to work the eighth. The left-hander came into the game with a 1.00 ERA and hadn't allowed an earned run since April 11, having struck out 39 of 54 batters faced this season. He caught pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez looking to open the inning but gave up a walk to Gregory Polanco. Marte was next and he got ahead, 2-1, before sending a fastball to right-center for his fifth homer of the season, tying the game at 3.

Marte finished 1-for-3 with three RBIs, including a sacrifice fly.

Video: PIT@MIL: Marte brings home Frazier with sacrifice fly

SOUND SMART
Marte's home run off Hader was just the third extra-base hit allowed by the Milwaukee left-hander this season.

Marte now has 12 career home runs off Brewers pitchers, with eight of them coming at Miller Park -- his highest totals against any single opponent and in any ballpark other than PNC Park.

UP NEXT
Right-hander Chad Kuhl (3-2, 5.01 ERA) will try to bounce back from his worst outing of the season Sunday when he takes the mound in the series finale against Chase Anderson (3-2, 3.38). Kuhl allowed just four hits his last time out, but they were all home runs as the Pirates fell to Washington, 12-4. He's undefeated at Miller Park, going 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in three career starts.

Andrew Wagner is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Kyle Crick, George Kontos, Starling Marte, Jameson Taillon