The Pittsburgh Pirates’ habit of digging themselves an early hole proved fatal again Saturday night, as the host Milwaukee Brewers scored five runs in the first inning on the way to a 7-1 victory over the Buccos at American Family Field.
The Pirates, who fell to 6-9, have now given up a Major League-worst 23 runs in the first inning and only five times have Bucs pitchers held the opposition scoreless in the opening frame.
This time, it was Trevor Cahill who had trouble getting started. Cahill yielded six singles in the first – five of which came with two outs — on the way to his second loss in two decisions.
Two of those RBI singles were not exactly crushed – Avisail Garcia drove in the first run with a broken-bat bloop base hit and Jace Peterson’s run-scoring single to close the scoring that inning took several bounces to get through the infield.
But Billy McKinney lined one inside the bag at first for a run and Julio Urias got credit for an RBI with his shot to left-center before Anthony Alford’s error allowed another run to come home.
The Brewers added two more runs in the second on Keston Hiura’s RBI double and Garcia’s sacrifice fly.
Pittsburgh averted the shutout in the fourth when Urias uncorked an offline throw to first on Jacob Stallings’ grounder to short, allowing Bryan Reynolds to score.
Reynolds and Adam Frazier each had two hits for the Pirates, who also got solid relief from recently activated Sean Poppen and Clay Holmes.
Poppen, called up from the taxi squad to replace Michael Feliz, who was placed on the injured list with a torn fingernail, gave up two hits and struck out two in two innings of work. Holmes also went two innings and yielded just one hit while striking out two.
The Pirates will look to take the series in Sunday’s 2:10 p.m. rubber match. Chad Kuhl (0-1) will start for the Bucs against Milwaukee’s Freddy Peralta, who has struck out 24 in 13 innings and sports an 0.69 ERA to go with a 2-0 record.