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Offense falls flat out of break, Pirates lose to Brewers, 4-1

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

I don't mean to alarm you, but the Pirates haven't won a game in five days.

Well, the Bucs lost their first game in that span, putting together a flat offensive performance for a 4-1 loss to Mike Fiers and the Brewers coming out of the all-star break.

Fiers had one of those junkballer-baffles-a-fastball-hitting-team kind of nights, conceding just three Pirates hits in his seven innings, while striking out seven and walking one.

The Brewers got on the board just three Charlie Morton pitches into the game. Gerardo Parra knocked the first pitch of the game to left field for a double, then the Brewers gifted the Pirates an out as the second hitter, Jonathan Lucroy, sacrifice bunted Parra to third. A Ryan Braun sacrifice fly plated Parra.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell's strategy of playing for one run in the first inning was not sound, but the Pirates wouldn't hold a lead all night.

Parra hurt the Bucs again in the fifth, doubling again to score Scooter Gennett, whom Morton hit with a pitch to start the inning, in retaliation to two Pirates hit batsmen.

Jung-Ho Kang pulled the Pirates within one, 2-1, in the seventh with his solo home run to left-center field. That was the extent of the Bucs' offensive output, though.

The Brewers countered immediately, upping their lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh. Gennett and Shane Peterson started the inning with singles, then Parra's grounder went through Pedro Alvarez's legs, scoring Gennett and ending Morton's outing. Jared Hughes induced a run-scoring double play from Lucroy, then walked Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez and hit Adam Lind with a pitch (unintentionally, apparently) in between to load the bases before getting out of the inning with an Aramis Ramirez groundout.

The Pirates went down quietly against Will Smith and Francisco Rodriguez in the final two innings, with Andrew McCutchen's reaching on an error in the ninth the only glimmer of hope.

The offense didn't look good at all, leading to a bit of a boring game coming out of the break. Morton had two strikeouts, three walks and five hits in six-plus innings. I didn't think he was all that bad, actually, but he had a couple bad breaks and no offensive support.

The beanball war broke out in the middle innings after Starling Marte and Kang had been hit by Fiers pitches. I have mixed feelings about beanball wars -- they're silly and dangerous, and "protecting hitters" is a tough tightrope to walk. The Pirates ended up hitting three batters on the night, actually, though Hughes and Arquimedes Caminero didn't look to mean anything when they hit Brewers batters.

Home plate umpire Dale Scott had a pretty big strike zone at times, particularly in an early Francisco Cervelli at-bat that ended in a strikeout.

The Mets provided no help, losing to the Cardinals, 3-2, putting the Pirates 3 1/2 games back of St. Louis.

The Pirates will get another shot against a crappy Brewers pitcher in Jimmy Nelson on Saturday.