The Pirates got a solid start from Chase De Jong and an uncharacteristic three home runs from their offense. A massive control breakdown by the bullpen, though, saddled them with their fifth straight loss, by a 7-4 count to Milwaukee.
De Jong didn’t overwhelm anybody. He walked four over five innings, but he allowed just four hits. The only real trouble he had came in the second, when three hits and a walk cost him two runs. The first run scored when Gregory Polanco made a 75-hop throw to the plate while Omar Narvaez rolled home with all the speed of Jacob Stallings in lead boots. The second scored on a perfectly placed safety squeeze by Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff.
In the third, De Jong gave up a walk and a Narvaez single with two out, but Ke’Bryan Hayes caught Narvaez trying to take second on the throw to third. A one-out double in the fifth was the Brewers’ last threat against De Jong.
The Pirates at least got De Jong off the hook. They’d scored first in the second inning on Ben Gamel’s first home run as a Pirate.
After the Brewers went up 2-1, the Bucs had a chance to tie the game in the fifth when Michael Perez led off with a double. He went to third on a ground out by Kevin Newman, but that brought up Ka’ai Tom and his .143 average. In contrast to Woodruff, Tom fanned, then De Jong grounded out to strand the runner.
In the top of the sixth, Polanco tied the game with a 427-foot blast into the upper deck in right. It was his sixth homer of the year.
Sam Howard came on for the bottom of the sixth. He got through that inning and one out in the seventh on a dozen pitches, but Derek Shelton then went with the normally reliable Clay Holmes. Two walks and a single loaded the bases, then Christian Yelich hit a dribbler up the middle that somehow meandered through for a two-run double. After a strikeout, Holmes walked two more to force in a run and put Milwaukee ahead, 5-2.
With the bases loaded and two out, Shelton went with Trevor Cahill, making his first game appearance in over three weeks. Cahill is too veteranly to require a minor league rehab, so he only needed to walk in two more runs before he found the plate and got the third out.
From the third through the seventh, the Pirates’ only hits were Perez’ double and Polanco’s homer. In the eighth, Hayes belted a 424-foot home run to left, driving in Erik Gonzalez, who’d reached on an error. That was Hayes’ third (official) homer of the year and made it 7-4, Brewers.
In the ninth, Bryan Reynolds got an infield hit as a pinch hitter off Josh Hader. Colin Moran came in to pinch hit with two out. Not surprisingly, Hader being Hader, he struck out, but at least he’s not on the injured list.