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Bucs unable to keep ball in yard vs. Brewers

Special to MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- With a difficult stretch looming and their current place in the standings, the Pirates knew the importance of Wednesday's series finale against the Brewers. They needed a win to get within two games of the Brewers for second place in the National League Central with four-game series vs. the Cardinals and Dodgers looming.

But despite staking Gerrit Cole to a four-run lead, Pittsburgh surrendered five home runs and let three leads slip away in a 7-6 loss that dropped the Bucs four games back of Milwaukee.

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MILWAUKEE -- With a difficult stretch looming and their current place in the standings, the Pirates knew the importance of Wednesday's series finale against the Brewers. They needed a win to get within two games of the Brewers for second place in the National League Central with four-game series vs. the Cardinals and Dodgers looming.

But despite staking Gerrit Cole to a four-run lead, Pittsburgh surrendered five home runs and let three leads slip away in a 7-6 loss that dropped the Bucs four games back of Milwaukee.

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"It is just frustrating to get spotted that and not be able to hold it," Cole said. "That's kind of the sour taste in my mouth right now."

What made the loss even more frustrating for the Pirates was the fact they put together a solid day on offense despite collecting just one extra-base hit.

Pittsburgh was 6-for-12 with runners in scoring position, scoring each of its first five runs on two-out singles.

"The first five runs we scored were on two-out hits," manager Clint Hurdle said. "The guys did a nice job focusing in, locking in. Adam Frazier did a nice job driving in the sixth run. We did a lot of nice things today, but we didn't win a game."

Video: PIT@MIL: Frazier puts Pirates ahead with RBI single

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead on a two-out single by Josh Bell in the first inning that plated Starling Marte. Five straight Pirates reached against Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson in the third, as three consecutive hits with runners in scoring position increased the lead to 4-0.

With Cole throwing well in the early going, the lead seemed to be safe.

That was not the case, as the Brewers quickly got back in the game. Keon Broxton took the first pitch of the bottom of the third out for a solo shot and Neil Walker knocked a 1-0 changeup out for a two-run blast later in the inning to make it 4-3.

Cole surrendered a solo shot to Travis Shaw to tie the game in the sixth, ending an outing that was better than the final box score indicated.

"Two of those pitches were right on the corner," Cole said. "The one to Walker was a mistake. That's the one I want back. That's kind of where he wants it, especially with a changeup. I made Broxton go the other way. I made a good pitch after a good inning, the first pitch of the inning. The two-seamer got to the edge with Shaw and he just lifted it in the air.

"As far as the pitch execution, it was pretty good. But we wanted to win this one bad."

The Pirates regained the lead on a two-out RBI single by Josh Harrison in the seventh, but George Kontos surrendered a game-tying home run to Broxton in the bottom of the frame.

Bell led off the eighth with a triple and scored two batters later on a single by Frazier.

But the Brewers again answered immediately, as Manny Pina delivered the decisive blow with a two-run blast off of Juan Nicasio.

"We threw out 11 hits to get our runs, and they [swing] it five times and get seven," Hurdle said. "We had our best guys out there. We came up short today by one run."

Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee and covered the Pirates on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh Pirates