Bedard struggles as Bucs blanked by Brewers

Bedard struggles as Bucs blanked by Brewers

Bedard struggles as Bucs blanked by Brewers
PITTSBURGH -- Hoping to win consecutive home games -- a modest goal for a team positioned in late August for a postseason run -- for the first time in five weeks, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had a pretty short checklist for Sunday's game against the Brewers:

"We look for a good start out of Erik Bedard. And we look for our bats to show up."

Neither of those boxes got checked as the Pirates lost, 7-0, remaining without consecutive PNC Park triumphs since July 21-22.

Although this was a one-sided game, Hurdle still felt strongly that it boiled down to one critical contrast: Brewers two-out lightning versus Pirates two-out light hitting.

"We weren't able to capitalize on two-out situations, and they did," Hurdle said. "There's nothing better than getting a two-out hit with runners in scoring position. And nothing stings as much as giving up one."

On Sunday, the Brewers were 1-for-1 in the aforementioned situation, and scored a total of five two-out runs; the Pirates went 0-for-5.

After a laborious yet unscathed beginning, Bedard came undone swiftly in the fourth and fifth innings. And a lineup stacked with left-handed batters could produce only three hits in five innings against Milwaukee righty Mark Rogers, and even less against the relievers who followed him.

The Bucs thus set up a three-game showdown with St. Louis that begins Monday night with a disappointing home-series loss -- Sunday's third consecutive sellout of 36,626 set attendance for the series at 111,283 -- that again pushed them two games behind the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot.

"Our games haven't been complete for a while now," Hurdle said. "It's been hard, but we know what we need to do: Play better. One thing I see from [the] team -- they continue to fight back."

Of course, they have to: For the 22nd time in the last 27 games, their opposition scored first on Sunday.

And the Pirates had precious little fight against Rogers, who, like famous namesake Fred Rogers, made himself at home in the City of Bridges.

Before exiting with a 6-0 lead after five innings, Rogers blanked the Bucs on three hits, dodging three walks while striking out five.

Although clearly frustrated by his club's inability to exploit opportunities created partly by Rogers' erratic command, Hurdle paid him grudging praise.

"He was able to grind through five," Hurdle said. "He's a big man with a downhill angle, so when the fastball is in the zone, it's tough to strike. Then you throw in being uncomfortably wild. He threw enough strikes to get through five and keep us from scoring."

So is Mister Rogers' Neighborhood really Pittsburgh -- the actual location of the famed children's television show? Well, the only two prior pitchers named Rogers to have appeared in PNC Park -- Esmil and Kenny -- have a 3-0 record here. (Famed Expos right-hander Steve Rogers was 11-9 at Three Rivers Stadium.)

Bedard (7-14) had the Brewers hitless, two outs in the fourth, nobody on base. Three batters later, he trailed, 3-0.

Corey Hart singled through the shortstop hole, Jonathan Lucroy singled through the second-base hole -- then Carlos Gomez drilled a ball through the hole in the ozone layer. Well, Gomez's 13th homer wasn't really hit that hard, but his one swing did account for more runs than Bedard had allowed in eight of his previous 11 home starts.

"They started to hit the ball around and scored some runs," said Bedard. "Curveball to Gomez. If he doesn't swing, it was gonna hit the dirt."

Hurdle had a slightly different view of Bedard's inability to "cap a two-out situation. We had two outs, nobody on and the inning got away from us."

"The breaking ball to Gomez was up, and broke the path of his bat," Hurdle said.

Bedard, who had brought a home ERA of 2.63 into his 12th PNC Park start this season, then eclipsed the highest yield in his three other home starts in the next inning, when Rickie Weeks' RBI single and Aramis Ramirez's ensuing home run, No. 18 on the season, made it a 6-0 runaway.

In back-to-back innings Bedard thus matched his previous total of home runs at home, two in 65 1/3 innings.

The Bucs' best shot of the day had also developed after there were two outs in the second. Josh Harrison beat out an infield hit, and Bedard was safe when his grounder was misplayed for an error.

Travis Snider, the leadoff man in the lineup as Jose Tabata got a day to rest a tender left-groin muscle, did not get cheated on Rogers' full-count pitch. But his drive died on the warning track, in front of the 375-foot marker in right-center.

"I got a good pitch to hit and didn't get all of it," Snider said. "Some go out, sometimes they stop at the track."

Kevin Correia replaced Bedard with two outs in the fifth, giving up an additional run in the sixth on Jean Segura's leadoff triple and Norichika Aoki's sacrifice fly.

Hisanori Takahashi, the left-hander acquired on waivers from the Angels on Friday, made his Pirates debut in the eighth inning and retired the side in order.

"Six pitches, three outs. There wasn't anything not to like," said Hurdle, making it clear he was talking only about Takahashi.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.