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External factors conspire to defeat Pirates, 1-0

Justin K. Aller

The Pirates came tantalizingly close to scoring several times, and in fact did score once, but they lost to the Brewers anyway, 1-0.

In the bottom of the first, Neil Walker reached on a hit by pitch, then went to third on Andrew McCutchen's single. Gaby Sanchez then hit the ball to right, and Ryan Braun's throw clearly beat Walker home. Jonathan Lucroy kept his hands high, however, and didn't make the tag until Walker had crossed the plate. Walker was called out, and the play was reviewed not for the safe/out call but for the plate-blocking rule, and the call was upheld.

After that, Yovani Gallardo and Jeff Locke traded zeroes for several frames. In the seventh, Lucroy hit a dying quail down the left field line. Lucroy nearly stopped halfway to first, thinking it was foul, but it was called fair, and a fan reached out and picked up the ball before Starling Marte could make a play on it. Lucroy was awarded second base, even though Marte surely could have thrown him out at second. Lucroy then moved to third on a sacrifice fly, and came home on a groundout. If not for the fan interference, he might not have scored.

The Pirates loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, but Jose Tabata struck out and Josh Harrison popped out to end the threat.

In the eighth, Andrew McCutchen doubled with one out, but Sanchez grounded out and Russell Martin struck out looking on a ball outside the strike zone. Martin, probably already annoyed with the umpires, flipped out and got ejected, and then Clint Hurdle came out clearly intending to get tossed and got his wish.

Marte walked in the ninth and stole second (despite initially, and incorrectly, being called out -- unlike the play at home, this one was overturned). Then Ike Davis walked. But Travis Snider grounded into a force out, and Harrison lined out -- he didn't have any heroics up his sleeve, apparently.

The frustrating loss obscured a good start for Locke, who struck out five and walked one over seven innings.