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Marte homers, but Bucs' rally vs. Crew falls short

MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- On Tuesday, for the second night in a row, the Pirates excelled against the Brewers' dominant bullpen. This time, however, the late offensive surge wasn't enough as Pittsburgh lost to Milwaukee, 3-2, at PNC Park. The defeat dropped the Pirates back below .500 on the season.

"We've done this before," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We stay in the game. We fight. We scratch. We claw. We got close again. We had a couple push innings where maybe there could have been more there for us, but we weren't able to capitalize on them."

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PITTSBURGH -- On Tuesday, for the second night in a row, the Pirates excelled against the Brewers' dominant bullpen. This time, however, the late offensive surge wasn't enough as Pittsburgh lost to Milwaukee, 3-2, at PNC Park. The defeat dropped the Pirates back below .500 on the season.

"We've done this before," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We stay in the game. We fight. We scratch. We claw. We got close again. We had a couple push innings where maybe there could have been more there for us, but we weren't able to capitalize on them."

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The Pirates' bats were stifled by Brewers rookie right-hander Freddy Peralta, who recorded seven strikeouts while allowing just two hits over six scoreless innings. When Milwaukee called upon its bullpen in the seventh, though, Pittsburgh's offense came to life.

Video: MIL@PIT: Hurdle on Taillon's outing in 3-2 loss

With the Bucs trailing by three, Josh Bell won an 11-pitch battle against southpaw Dan Jennings by drawing a two-out walk. In the ensuing at-bat, he advanced to third on a Gregory Polanco single. Jennings was then replaced by right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, who subsequently surrendered a double to Jordy Mercer that scored Bell.

"I'll definitely take a walk in that scenario and come around and score," Bell said. "It's awesome. Every time I'll take a walk; it doesn't matter."

Video: MIL@PIT: Mercer belts an RBI double to left-center

Austin Meadows pinch-hit with two outs and Polanco and Mercer in scoring position, but he proceeded to strike out to end the inning. Starling Marte -- who earlier lined out and flied out on a pair of balls hit over 95 mph, per Statcast™ -- continued to make things interesting for the Pirates in the eighth. He connected on the first pitch he saw and launched a two-out, 394-foot blast to center field to cut their deficit to one run.

"He's letting the ball travel. He's getting the barrel to the ball," Hurdle said. "I think he showed you the difference when it catches the sweet spot. He hit the two balls well, but he caught the last one. Really strong swing. He's up there fighting as well. He targeted that way."

The rally fell short in the ninth as right-hander Corey Knebel worked around a two-out walk and closed the door with a hitless frame to earn his seventh save of the season.

Video: MIL@PIT: Knebel seals 3-2 win to earn his 7th save

The Brewers found themselves in an early hole thanks to two Lorenzo Cain infield singles followed by Jesus Aguilar extra-base hits.

Cain led off the opening frame by legging out an infield single off Jameson Taillon. Two batters later, Aguilar homered to right-center field to open up a lead for the Brewers. Two innings later, Cain beat out another infield single to lead off the third and scored on an Aguilar double to extend the Pirates' deficit.

"A couple pitches kind of put us in a hole. That's about it," Taillon said. "Both times, hanging breaking balls to Aguilar after an infield hit. He did what he should've done with them."

Video: MIL@PIT: Aguilar laces an RBI double to left field

Taillon scattered a single in the fourth and fifth innings, but no further damage was done. He was backed by four scoreless frames from Tyler Glasnow, Edgar Santana and Kyle Crick. Glasnow allowed just two hits through two innings, while Santana and Crick each worked a perfect frame to keep the Pirates in the game late.

"We've got guys capable of doing it out there," Hurdle said of his bullpen. "Sometimes it runs in a little bit of a cycle. Now, I think, is our time to cycle back and be effective."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With a runner on first base in the first inning, Taillon struck out Christian Yelich before working a 1-2 count on Aguilar. He missed the zone on his next two pitches to work the count full, and then left a 92-mph slider over the middle of the plate that Aguilar crushed for a two-run homer to give the Brewers an early lead.

"I can point it back to an infield hit with two strikes, a two-strike home run, and that's the game," Taillon said. "We were trailing the whole game from then."

Video: MIL@PIT: Aguilar hammers a 2-run shot to open scoring

SOUND SMART
Glasnow has been scored on in just three of his past 14 outings since surrendering six earned runs on four hits against the Nationals on May 1. During that span, the right-hander has permitted five earned runs while striking 27 over 23 2/3 innings.

Video: MIL@PIT: Mercer, Harrison turn a double play in 6th

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
While the Pirates' bullpen shined on the mound, left-hander Steven Brault had his moment in the spotlight before the first pitch was thrown. The former music performance major belted a rendition of the national anthem prior to Tuesday night's game. More >

Video: MIL@PIT: Pitcher Brault sings anthem at PNC Park

UP NEXT
Right-hander Chad Kuhl will take the mound for the Pirates as they wrap up a three-game series against the Brewers at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Kuhl is 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA in six career starts against Milwaukee. Lefty Brent Suter will start for the Brewers.

Mason Wittner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Starling Marte, Jordy Mercer, Jameson Taillon