The Times West Virginian

Pirates

September 18, 2012

Bucs lose ground in playoff race

Brewers jump ahead in division with 6-0 victory

PITTSBURGH — Yovani Gallardo gave up just two hits over 6 2-3 innings and the surging Milwaukee Brewers dropped the weary Pittsburgh Pirates 6-0 on Tuesday night.

Gallardo (16-8) struck out six and walked four to win his eighth straight decision as Milwaukee moved in front of fading Pittsburgh in the jumbled National League wild-card race. The teams entered the day 2 1-2 games back of the Cardinals, who played Houston later.

Ryan Braun had two hits, drove in a run and stole three bases for the Brewers, who have won six of seven. Milwaukee’s seven stolen bases were the most by the franchise since it moved to the National League in 1998. Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy had three hits apiece for the Brewers.

A.J. Burnett (15-8) gave up two runs in six innings but couldn’t stop Pittsburgh’s late season swoon. The Pirates are 4-12 this month.

While the Pirates have stumbled, the Brewers have surged. Milwaukee trailed Pittsburgh by nine games during its last visit to PNC Park in late August, though Pittsburgh appeared to at least get some stability on Monday night during a 3-0 win in Chicago.

The Pirates waited out rain delay of more than three hours before taking care of the Cubs and didn’t get home until 5:40 a.m.

Manager Clint Hurdle let his players arrive later than usual to the ballpark after the long night. The extra rest didn’t help.

The Brewers escaped a bases-loaded two-out jam in the second when Gallardo got Burnett to ground out to second.

Pittsburgh didn’t get another base runner until the seventh, and by then Milwaukee had raced to a 4-0 lead.

The night followed a similar theme. The Brewers would get on base with a single — all 13 of their hits were singles — then get into scoring position by taking off for second at the first opportunity.

Six weeks ago, it appeared Pittsburgh’s streak of 19 straight losing seasons would end when the Pirates moved 16 games over .500 on Aug. 6. They’re just 12-27 since.

Burnett did his part but failed in his bid to become the first Pittsburgh starter to win 16 games since 1991. He overcame some early command issues — he hit two batters — to give the Pirates six serviceable innings.

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