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Brewers’ bullpen battered by Pirates

April 18, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen had been nearly unhittable in the early part of the season. That sure changed Thursday night.

Milwaukee relievers gave up nine runs over the seventh and eighth innings, including pinch-hitter Josh Harrison’s go-ahead two-run homer as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Brewers their first road loss of the season, 11-2.

Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter. It stared Pittsburgh’s outburst over the seventh and eighth innings that was capped by Pedro Alvarez’s sixth home run of the year, which came off rookie left-hander Wei-Chung Wang.

Wooten allowed three runs while getting only one out and Wang was hammered for six runs in 2-3 of an inning as the Brewers bullpen’s ERA rose from a major league-best 1.33 to 3.16. The Brewers selected Wang from the Pirates’ organization in the Rule 5 Draft at the winter meetings in December.

“It was a good ballgame until the seventh inning,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.

Wooten was upset with his performance.

“That’s by far the most disappointed I’ve been in myself in professional baseball at any level,” Wooten said. “I don’t have the words to describe it. It’s embarrassing.”

The Pirates hit four home runs as Andrew McCutchen, last year’s NL MVP, connected for his first of the season in his 57th at-bat in the first inning off Yovani Gallardo. Gaby Sanchez had a solo shot in the eighth off Wang.

Jonathan Lucroy and Scooter Gennett had two hits each for Milwaukee, which had won its first six road games. The Brewers have lost three of four since a nine-game winning streak.

Wooten relieved Gallardo to start the seventh. Gallardo, who had won four of his previous five stars in Pittsburgh, allowed two runs and three in six innings with four walks and six strikeouts.

“It was tough,” Gallardo said. “I felt like I was fighting myself all night. I never felt like I was in control of the game.”

The Pirates have hit 23 homers but what encouraged manager Clint Hurdle the most was that three of the four on Thursday night were of the multi-run variety.

“It’s good to know you can strike quickly but we need to hit a few more with men on base like we did tonight rather than just solos,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Hurdle wanted Harrison to bunt Jordy Mercer up to second base after he led off the seventh with a single. However, Harrison failed to sacrifice then made it up for it.

“That’s why baseball is a crazy game,” Harrison said. “One second, I didn’t the job done and then the next second I put us ahead with a home run.

“I don’t hit a lot of home runs but I do know if you hit the ball down the left field line (at PNC Park) that you have a chance. I knew I hit it hard.”

Alvarez, Starling Marte, Russell Martin and Mercer each had two of the Pirates’ 12 hits.

Edinson Volquez (1-0) gave up two runs in seven innings for his first win with the Pirates, scattering eight hits.

“It’s a great feeling to get that first W for the Pittsburgh Pirates,” said Volquez, who was signed as a free agent in December. “That’s why they brought me here, to win games, so I feel like I did my job this time.”

NOTES Brewers 1B Lyle Overbay was placed on the paternity list after his wife gave birth to a boy on Thursday morning in Milwaukee and INF-OF Elian Herrera was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. ... Pirates OF Jose Tabata, who had a pinch-hit RBI double in the eighth, passed all concussion protocols Thursday morning, a day after leaving a game in Cincinnati in the fourth inning when he ran into the scoreboard while making a catch. ... Milwaukee RHP Kyle Lohse (2-1, 3.05) is scheduled to pitch Friday night against Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton (0-1, 3.32).

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