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Cole battered as Pirates lose to Brewers, 7-4

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates started a stretch of 17 games against divisional opponents in exactly the wrong fashion, losing to the Brewers, 7-4, in a game that effectively ended in the 1st inning.  The Brewers, losers of 23 of their previous 36 games, jumped all over Pirates' ace Gerrit Cole for four runs in the opening frame.  The first four batters got hits, the last a two-run double by Adam Lind.  Before he managed to get out of the inning, Cole also gave up a two-out, RBI single to Jean Segura.  In the second, he gave up a two-out, RBI single to Jonathan Lucroy.  Cole put up two scoreless innings after that, but exited after the 4th, just the third time in 68 career starts he's failed to go five.

On the offensive side, the Pirates' hitters were once again dominated by the Brewers' solid-but-hardly-great starter Jimmy Nelson.  He breezed through their lineup, allowing just four hits, with no walks, in seven innings.  The only sign of life against him came in the 5th, when Jung-Ho Kang doubled and Neil Walker drove him in with a single.  Pedro Alvarez drew the Pirates within three with his 22nd HR off Corey Knebel, who fanned the other three batters he faced.  Joakim Soria, however, gave up another two-out, RBI single (two RBIs in this case) to Segura in the bottom of the inning.  The Pirates finished the scoring with two-out, back-to-back HRs by Aramis Ramirez and Kang off 26-year-old rookie David Goforth.  That led to a cheap, one-pitch save for Francisco Rodriguez.

The only positive in the game, unless you count the three meaningless longballs, was two scoreless innings from Radhames Liz in his return to the majors.  Throwing 96-99 mph, Liz faced the minimum in two innings, striking out two.

The Pirates now have a losing record against all four divisional opponents.  They're 21-30 within the Central Division and 58-21 against everybody else.  Meanwhile, Nelson is 4-1 with an ERA of 1.72 against the Pirates this year.  Against everybody else, he's 7-9, 3.96.  Elsewhere, the collapsening Gnats walked, hit-battered and errored their way to another come-from-ahead loss to the Cardinals, and the Cubs beat the Reds, as everybody except the Pirates routinely does.