Brewers fall to Bucs as skid hits nine

Brewers fall to Bucs as skid hits nine

PITTSBURGH -- Milwaukee's bullpen has been beaten-up of late, so manager Ken Macha tried a new tactic on Wednesday: Ride the starter.

That didn't work either, and the Brewers' losing streak continued on.

Randy Wolf couldn't hold a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, when the left-hander was charged with three runs on the way to a 6-4 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park. The Brewers' nine-game skid is their worst since a 10-game losing streak from Aug. 25-Sept. 3, 2006, on the way to 87 losses.

Whatever can go wrong for the Brewers, is. Two of Pittsburgh's RBI singles in the decisive seventh inning were ground balls that eluded Milwaukee infielders, and the other -- Ryan Doumit's go-ahead hit -- was a bloop to center field. There was more trouble in the top of the ninth, when Ryan Braun was tagged out after what he called a "stupid" blunder on the basepaths.

"The one key to this team is, I don't see guys pointing fingers," Wolf said. "Sometimes, you get in a situation where things spiral in a bad way and guys start pointing fingers and don't take the blame or be accountable for what happened out there."

"We just need to play better. I wish I had that 'easy pill' to fix everything."

There are no easy fixes for the Brewers, despite the continued sophomore success of third baseman Casey McGehee. He hit a tying home run in the sixth inning off Pirates starter Brian Burres and a go-ahead single off reliever D.J. Carrasco in the top of the seventh. The latter gave the Brewers a 4-3 lead and gave McGehee 37 RBIs, one shy of injured Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier's National League-leading total.

Braun and Prince Fielder also drove in a run apiece in support of Wolf, who let the lead slip away. He was charged with six earned runs on 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings, five days after allowing six runs on seven hits in five innings against the Phillies in an outing he termed, "embarrassing."

Wolf was similarly blunt on Wednesday.

"I'm concerned about the fact that I stink," Wolf said. "I'm not going to candy coat it."

He had to ask how many batters he walked. The answer was five, one shy of the career high he matched three starts ago against the Padres.

"That's horrible," Wolf said. "There were certain times I didn't want to give a guy something to hit, but there were certain times where I needed to be more aggressive and pitch to contact. This is definitely beyond frustrating."

You couldn't blame Wolf for being a bit frustrated after the Pirates bounced and blooped their way to the lead.

Wolf walked three of the final eight batters he faced and retired only two of them, one on a sacrifice bunt. That Bobby Crosby sacrifice brought Andrew McCutchen to the plate, a right-handed hitter who was 1-for-3 in the game and 4-for-16 in his career against Wolf. McCutchen walked to bring up Garrett Jones, a left-handed hitter who struck out in his first two at-bats against Wolf, before knocking an infield single off Fielder's glove in the sixth inning. Jones grounded a single between first and second base that tied the game at 4.

"Sometimes, you'd rather be lucky than good," Jones said. "I've never had much success against him. I just tried to battle. After my two strikeouts, I went to a two-strike approach. It worked out." Up next was Doumit, who was 0-for-2 in the game and 5-for-20 in his career against Wolf entering the at-bat. Doumit flared a go-ahead single to center field. That hit prompted Macha to call for reliever Todd Coffey, but Macha stood by his decision to stay with Wolf.

The Brewers have not had a starter pitch seven innings since Yovani Gallardo on May 1.

"Randy was right about at 100 [pitches] and said he was fine," Macha said. "I liked the matchups at that time."

Wolf was just as upset about his misdeeds in the earlier innings. He surrendered a two-out RBI hit to opposing pitcher Brian Burres in the fourth inning, then was unable to execute a sacrifice bunt in the top of the fifth that would have put Jody Gerut in position to score two batters later on Alcides Escobar's double. Instead, Burres intentionally walked Braun and retired Fielder on a bases-loaded flyout.

"Those were big keys in the game that put us in a hole," Wolf said.

It didn't get any better in the ninth inning, when Braun sparked things with a bunt hit. He stole second base while Fielder swung through a high pitch from Pirates closer Octavio Dotel. Pittsburgh third baseman Andy LaRoche was covering second base because the Pirates employed a shift against Fielder, and Braun noticed that third was unoccupied just as LaRoche was throwing the baseball back to the pitcher.

But Braun broke too early, and LaRoche spun around and applied the tag for out No. 2. McGehee flew out to end the game.

"Getting to third base right there wouldn't have done us much good, but I saw an opportunity," Braun said. "[LaRoche] did some Matrix stuff or something, I don't know. He was about to throw the ball back to the pitcher and did a reverse spin. It was a good play by him and a stupid play by me."

The Brewers will try to avoid their 10th straight loss on Thursday behind starter Chris Narveson.

"Honestly, the morale, the vibe is pretty good," Braun said. "It's not bad considering the circumstances. We know that we're obviously better than we've been, and we approach every day thinking it's the day you're going to turn it around. You can't come in tomorrow worrying about a losing streak, because it's irrelevant."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.