Steven Brault looked sharp in his first outing back from the injured list, but an obstruction call during a ninth inning rundown wound up being the difference in a 4-3 loss to the Brewers.
Trailing 3-2 with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth, the Pirates appeared to catch a break when Travis Shaw, the runner on first, found himself in no man’s land between first and second. After Elias Diaz threw down to first, the runner on third, Trent Grisham, broke for home, but was quickly caught in a rundown.
Near the end of the rundown, Diaz threw the ball to third baseman Colin Moran but stayed in the baseline and was called for interference.
“Unfortunately, the right call was made,” said manager Clint Hurdle.
Diaz had not seen the replay before he talked to the media, but he did not think he was in the way.
“I still felt like I had time for [Moran] to throw it right back at me,” said Diaz through translator Mike Gonzalez. “He didn’t, and then right away they called interference on me.”
Diaz singled and scored to get the run back in the ninth, but Melky Cabrera and Kevin Newman both failed to bring Pablo Reyes, the tying run, home from third.
The loss drops the Pirates to 4-20 since the All-Star break, losing all eight series they have played.
“It’s just a really bad stretch,” said Brault. “I keep saying we’re not gonna finish out this way. It’s a bad stretch and it’s going to look bad, but we’ll get it back together.”
Brault came out of the gate sharp in his first game in a month after being sidelined with a left shoulder strain. He retired the first 12 batters he faced before running into trouble in the fifth. After Ryan Braun drew a walk on a full count, Yasmani Grandal broke up the no-hit bid with an RBI double to center.
Grandal would later score during a double-play. Brault finished with two runs allowed on a pair of infield singles, a double and a walk in 5.1 innings pitched. He struck out six.
He relied heavily on the fastball, throwing it 74 times out of 86 pitches.
Bryan Reynolds got the Pirates on the board in the sixth with a solo shot to center. He went 1-4 Tuesday, finally giving him enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting average crown. His .335 average is good for third best in the NL at the moment, trailing Jeff McNeil of the Mets (.340) and Christian Yelich of the Brewers (.336).
Jose Osuna doubled home Starling Marte to tie the game in the sixth. He had two doubles in four trips to the plate Tuesday.
Francisco Liriano takes the loss (4-3) after allowing a bases loaded sacrifice fly to Orlando Arcia in the seventh.
Junior Guerra gets the win (4-3) for retiring the only batter he faced. Starter Chase Anderson allowed two runs on six hits and a walk in 5.2 innings. Matt Albers gets his second save of the season.
The Pirates will try to salvage the final game of the series Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.. Trevor Williams (4-4, 4.75) will face an undisclosed Brewer starting pitcher.
1. Brault has a 2.33 ERA over his last nine outings (12 ER over 46.1 IP).
2. Liriano has allowed 13 runs over his last 14 outings (10.2 IP).
3. Brault’s .391 batting average is the best in the National League among players with at least 20 PAs. He currently has a seven game hitting streak.