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Pirates see positives in series despite mistakes

Bucs rue missed chances, but feel confident they can beat the best
MLB.com

The Pirates' past two days at Miller Park were defined by missed opportunities.

On Wednesday, they didn't take advantage of scoring chances and a late lead and lost, 4-3. In Thursday's 4-2 loss, they couldn't make the most of the few innings in which they had runners on base. In a broader sense, the Pirates couldn't capitalize on the momentum of winning Monday and Tuesday, leaving Milwaukee on Thursday night with a four-game series split.

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The Pirates' past two days at Miller Park were defined by missed opportunities.

On Wednesday, they didn't take advantage of scoring chances and a late lead and lost, 4-3. In Thursday's 4-2 loss, they couldn't make the most of the few innings in which they had runners on base. In a broader sense, the Pirates couldn't capitalize on the momentum of winning Monday and Tuesday, leaving Milwaukee on Thursday night with a four-game series split.

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Now, the Bucs will head to St. Louis in the same spot they entered Milwaukee: seven games under .500 and six games behind the National League Central-leading Brewers. Since May 12, they are 19-19 -- treading water in a lackluster division, but not making up any ground.

"We had a chance to do more. We didn't," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We'll take it on to St. Louis and go throw down there."

"We cannot play with our head down," added starter Ivan Nova. "We have to be proud of what we did this series."

The Pirates had 15 baserunners on Wednesday but finished 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and managed only three runs against struggling Brewers starter Junior Guerra. It was enough production to build a lead, but not enough to withstand a seventh inning in which Milwaukee scored three runs.

Pittsburgh had fewer opportunities in Thursday's series finale, managing only two hits and two walks in six innings off starter Chase Anderson. Josh Harrison drew a leadoff walk in the sixth and moved into scoring position on a groundout, but he was caught stealing third base. Josh Bell flied out to left to end the inning.

Video: PIT@MIL: Harrison swipes second base in the 1st

"This guy brings a ton of energy. Everybody loves it when he brings it," Hurdle said of Harrison. "I can't neuter the guy. He saw a changeup grip. The guy threw a changeup, and it actually turned out to be more of a pitch-out than a changeup. If it's a changeup that's over the middle of the plate and it sinks down, it's probably a whole different end up at third. But the ball just sailed out over the plate. [Brewers catcher Jett Bandy] had a clean lane to throw it."

In the seventh, Andrew McCutchen worked a one-out walk against former Pirates reliever Jared Hughes and Max Moroff reached on shortstop Orlando Arcia's error. But Jordy Mercer grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Pirates' final chance came in the eighth. Adam Frazier lined a pinch-hit single to right field and swiped second on a wild pitch. Gregory Polanco singled past first baseman Eric Thames, but second baseman Eric Sogard made a smooth recovery and quickly threw home to Bandy to cut down Frazier at the plate.

Video: PIT@MIL: Sogard throws out Frazier, call stands

"You get a split-second to make the decision," Hurdle said. "Again, when you're safe, it's great. When you're out, you're going, 'Yeah, could we have done it different?'"

There was a silver lining to the split, however. The Pirates held their own against the division leader, easily winning two games and losing the others by a combined three runs. They are on the outside looking in, but they believe they can compete with anyone.

"To come out right out of the gates and take two from them was pretty good. We just needed to get that third to get that series win," Mercer said. "I think if you had asked us from the get-go if we'd take a split, we'd probably say, 'Yeah,' just because it's a tough place to play, and they always play well here."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Pittsburgh Pirates