Sloppy start, missed opportunities cost Bucs vs. Crew

Pirates commit three errors in first frame, fall three games below .500

Sloppy start, missed opportunities cost Bucs vs. Crew

PITTSBURGH -- In the first inning, the Pirates couldn't catch the ball.

"We have one hitter, and we have three errors," manager Clint Hurdle said, recounting the sordid outset of Saturday's game.

Three innings later, part of the Bucs' recent past caught up to them.

Lyle Overbay, a former Pittsburgh first baseman, ripped a tie-breaking two-run single on the first pitch after the Bucs intentionally walked the man in front of him.

"We got better numbers against Overbay, so I thought it was a good idea. I just left a pitch in the middle," said Edinson Volquez.

And that's how the Pirates embarked on a 9-3 loss to the Brewers Saturday afternoon at PNC Park, and missed another shot at knocking on .500.

The defeat in front of a crowd of 38,525 -- the largest to ever see Milwaukee in PNC Park -- nudged the Pirates back to three games below the break-even point. The catapult to serious comeback contention is regarded as the .500 mark, and the Bucs keep getting pushed back when close.

The Bucs' fourth sellout crowd of the season was in a sad state even before Ryan Braun, the constant object of the fans' derision, ripped a two-run double to dot the Brewers' break-open, four-run eighth.

"After we got one run back, they pushed," Hurdle said of the Brewers' exploitation of Justin Wilson's control issues, "and we weren't able to push back."

Trailing 4-2, the Bucs mounted a rally in the sixth that amounted to less than they hoped for. Pedro Alvarez led off with a walk and wound up on third when Jose Tabata laid down a perfect bunt for a single and third baseman Aramis Ramirez threw wildly in a futile attempt to get him at first. They could net only one run out of that situation with runners at the corners and none out, as Milwaukee starter Matt Garza got Jordy Mercer to bounce into a double play.

"I think the only ball they hit hard today was the double by Alvarez," Garza said. "They were feisty and kept sticking the bat out there and making contact, so you just keep going."

Milwaukee then pulled away in the eighth, taking advantage of Wilson's wildness. The bases got loaded with one away on a pair of walks and a hit batter, and one run scored as pinch-hitter Rickie Weeks bounced into a forceout and another on Jean Segura's infield single deep into the shortstop hole. Braun's double off Jeanmar Gomez clanged off the Clemente Wall with the sound of finality.

"The inning got away from him," Hurdle said of one of his lefty bullpen sharks. "We haven't seen that often. He got into a couple of situations to put people away, and just wasn't able to today."

Volquez went six innings, giving up four hits and four runs -- only three earned, for his second quality start in the last eight -- while walking two with four strikeouts.

Garza tendered the virtually identical line, with the exception of the "W" at the end of his.

Overbay was already a name that haunts Pittsburgh because of his non-productive tenure as the Bucs' first baseman in 2011. Overbay aggravated that haunting by breaking a 2-2 tie with a two-run single in the fourth -- one pitch after the Pirates had intentionally walked Scooter Gennett to load the bases.

"They're just trying to get the ground-ball double play," Overbay said of the strategy, not taking it personally. "They got behind in the count and Scooter did a good job of laying off a couple tough pitches. "

Earlier in that fourth, Khris Davis had tied it by bouncing a run-scoring ground-rule double into the left-field corner seats.

Alvarez's bases-loaded flare to right with two down in the third drove in a pair for a brief 2-1 lead.

The Brewers had taken a 1-0 lead with a first-inning run as unearned as they come. Leadoff man Segura reached when his grounder to short was bobbled by Mercer, then went all the way to third on a double-error by first baseman Ike Davis, who first whiffed on Volquez's pickoff throw then threw wildly trying to get Segura at second. Jonathan Lucroy's sacrifice fly then brought Segura home.

"Nothing you can do about that," said Volquez, dismissing any residual effect. "It's part of the game, and you just have to move on, start making better pitches. You can't get frustrated when someone makes a mistake. It's the game."

Those would turn out to be only the first three of the Pirates' five errors in the game.

In the sixth, Alvarez fielded Davis' simple two-hopper, and threw the ball into the first-base seats.

"Pedro threw one high, wide and deep," Hurdle said.

The humor was unintentional, you can be sure.

"One thing we pride ourselves on is being ready and focused on every pitch," Hurdle said. "We gave up a lot of free bases. Didn't help [Volquez] on the defensive side at all."

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.