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Brewers repeatedly plunk McCutchen, beat Pirates 1-0

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David Maxwell

So the important thing here is that the Brewers beat the Pirates 1-0 Saturday night, shrinking the Bucs' lead for the second Wild Card spot to 3.5 games. The Giants also lost, so the Pirates missed an opportunity to take pole position in the race to host the Wild Card game. The Cardinals won, so the Bucs' chances of winning the NL Central are nearly gone now.

What you're likely to be hearing about, though, is that the Brewers hit Andrew McCutchen twice. HBP wars don't really provoke me -- I just don't have the gene that's supposed to infuriate you when stuff like that happens to your team, and it's rarely absolutely clear who intended to do what when they threw a baseball at 95 MPH and missed their target by a foot.

Anyway, in this case, Matt Garza hit McCutchen in the back with a fastball in the third. Then Edinson Volquez threw inside to (but did not hit) Ryan Braun the next inning, leading to both benches being warned.

In the fifth, McCutchen came up again, and Jonathan Lucroy signed for Garza to throw a fastball inside, then tugged at his shirt sleeve. Garza then threw a fastball that hit McCutchen in the arm. That led to Garza and Ron Roenicke being ejected, and it looked for a second like a brawl might break out, since Travis Snider and Gerrit Cole, in particular, were visibly furious. I don't really know what the sleeve tug meant, and a couple Brewers fans on Twitter said that Lucroy does that fairly frequently. It doesn't matter, though. The Pirates need to play baseball and not worry about things like this right now.

Anyway, in the midst of it all, there was a baseball game that the Pirates didn't win. The Bucs' best chance to score came in the seventh (although they also made noise in the first, fourth and eighth), when Andrew Lambo and Josh Harrison hit two-out singles, and Gregory Polanco replaced Lambo on the bases. Will Smith threw to Lyle Overbay and picked off Harrison, but Polanco darted home on the play (in an understandable attempt to make the best of a bad situation) and Overbay threw him out instead. (EDIT: Apparently, it was an intentional play designed to produce a throw to first so that Polanco could head home.)

Braun then led off the ninth with a single, and after a force out, Overbay doubled. Logan Schafer then knocked in the game's only run on a sacrifice fly.