Brewers bitten by nine-run first inning

Brewers bitten by nine-run first inning

PITTSBURGH -- A bad first inning bit Dave Bush and the Brewers once again. At least this time they were able to make it a ballgame.

The Pirates scored nine times against Bush in the first inning thanks in part to three Brewers errors, two of them charged to third baseman Casey McGehee. Home runs by Jim Edmonds and Ryan Braun helped the Brewers pull as close as one run before they fell, 11-9, at PNC Park on Tuesday.

"Pretty much everything I threw up there was getting hit," Bush said.

McGehee felt just as badly. His errors led to five unearned runs in the first inning.

"As we got closer and closer, I'm sure me and Bushy were the two people who wanted us to make it all the way back," McGehee said. "I felt like I definitely had a hand in it, and I feel bad for Bushy because I'm sure that wasn't the stuff he was expecting. If I make one of those plays, who knows? He might have been in line for a victory."

Instead, Bush fell to 4-8 and his streak of six consecutive quality starts ended with a thud, conjuring memories of the May 21 game at Minnesota in which the right-hander surrendered seven runs while recording only one out. On Tuesday, Pirates rookie Pedro Alvarez delivered the big blow when he turned on a 69-mph curveball from Bush for his first career grand slam and a 4-0 lead. Alvarez hit another Bush breaking ball in the second inning for a solo shot that made it 10-3, a key insurance run.

By then, the Brewers were mounting their comeback. Alcides Escobar, Jonathan Lucroy and Rickie Weeks hit RBI singles in the top of the second inning to answer the Pirates' nine-run outburst. Edmonds, who had four hits and finished a triple shy of the cycle, hit a three-run home run and Lucroy legged out another RBI single, this one on the infield, to make it 10-7 by the middle of the third inning. Braun's two-run home run off Pittsburgh reliever Brendan Donnelly in the sixth inning cut the deficit to one run, at 10-9.

That was as close as the Brewers would get.

"I'd say it was like running a 100-meter dash and then running in a marathon," said Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, who went 5-for-5. "The first inning was awesome."

Somewhat amazingly, Pirates starter Brad Lincoln was chased from the game before Bush. Lincoln allowed seven earned runs on nine hits in 2 1/3 innings. Bush lasted through the end of the fourth, and was charged with 10 runs, only five earned, on nine hits.

"The game should never have gotten to the point that it did and I take that all on my shoulders," Lincoln said. "When you get a team down like that, hold them. Keep them down. I just didn't do that tonight. I guess you could say I got comfortable out there, and that's not the way to go about things. It hurts me tonight."

The tight final score left the Brewers lamenting some chances to prevent runs in the first inning. All three Milwaukee errors came after Alvarez's slam, the first an errant pick-off throw by Bush that pushed Lastings Milledge to third base.

Catcher Erik Kratz followed with a bouncer to McGehee's left, but it got into left field. Milledge scored for a 5-0 Pirates lead.

"I thought it was coming up, and it didn't," McGehee said.

Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno bounced Bush's very next pitch to McGehee. The baseball took one big hop right before it reached him, and the ruling was the same: Error.

"It wasn't an ideal hop, but it was still a play I feel I should have made," McGehee said. "I've fielded worse hops in my time and not thought much of it."

Both plays loomed large. Jose Tabata, Delmon Young and Walker followed with three successive doubles for four more runs and a 9-0 lead.

"They were huge," McGehee said. "If I make even one of those plays, it saves a couple of runs for us. That was good that we came back, but obviously I feel bad. I can't remember ever making errors on two consecutive pitches."

The Pirates' first-inning outburst was their biggest since they jumped to a 10-0 lead at Philadelphia on June 8, 1989. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Pirates had not scored nine runs in the first inning of a home game since Aug. 8, 1893, against the Chicago Colts. Every Pirates batter reached base safely at least once in the inning with the exception of Lincoln, who laid down a sacrifice bunt.

It was the first time the Brewers have allowed nine runs in the first inning. They had given up eight runs on two occasions, most recently on Aug. 3, 1991 against the Rangers.

"I just wasn't very sharp," Bush said. "I'm not sure it was one particular pitch. Fastball location wasn't great. Curveball location wasn't really terrible, but it wasn't very good, either. So I didn't really have anything I could fall back on.

"The next three innings, I settled down a little bit. But by then I threw so many pitches, and we were in such a hole."

Said manager Ken Macha: "We even had the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning, so give those guys credit. We just dug too deep of a hole."

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