Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 9/21/12

Dipping below .500, getting swept by the Brewers (again) at home, and falling another game back in the wild card race is bad enough, but the Pirates somehow made it even more upsetting on Thursday afternoon.

They fell behind right away, immediately setting the stage for what looked like a total disaster. Wandy Rodriguez had his worst outing in quite a while, allowing three runs in the first inning and another in the third. With the way the Bucco offense had been going, 4-0 pretty much seemed like a ballgame.

Instead, the offense showed up. A couple of singles and an Andrew McCutchen bomb later (it was his 30th), the Bucs were back within one. Then they loaded the bases with no outs to start the fourth, but Rodriguez’s spot came up. He had settled down after the rough start, but Hurdle still pulled him for pinch hitter Alex Presley – who bounced into a force out to bring home one run. Starling Marte had a bad strikeout and Travis Snider grounded out, so the Bucs didn’t get any more. Still, they had tied the game.

They went on to take the lead thanks to another solid inning at the plate. Clint Barmes hit a solo homer to break the tie. Rod Barajas singled and Jeff Clement hit a pinch hit double(!!!!), then Marte singled in a run and Snider knocked in another with a sac-fly. It was 7-4 and all seemed to be well. The bullpen was even doing fine, as Jared Hughes had a nice outing and Tony Watson worked out of a jam.

Clint Hurdle made a solid move in the seventh, bringing in Jason Grilli (instead of saving him for the 8th) to face the meat of the Brewers order. Grilli got the job done, which was great, but someone still had to throw the 8th. I figured it would be Chris Resop, who has been pretty reliable lately. Instead, Clint went to Chad Qualls.  I don’t need to tell you how terrible Chad Qualls is and how much I dislike the fact that he is not only on the team, but pitching relatively important innings.

Hurdle correctly noted that Qualls has been good against right-handed batters this year, so I suppose letting him face two light-hitting righties to start the inning with a 3-run lead is somewhat defensible.  But after both singled, lefty pinch hitter Nyjer Morgan came up and next was the red hot Norichika Aoki (a lefty). Lefties had a .999 OPS against Qualls this year (before this game). Chad got Morgan to fly out, but letting him face Aoki was crazy. Aoki lined a double to score two runs and move the tying run (himself) into scoring position with one out. The three run lead was nearly gone.

THEN Resop got the call, and he yielded a laser triple to Rickie Weeks and an RBI single to put the Brewers ahead before he got out of the inning. Not a good outing for Chris, but only one run was his own fault and he had to face the good part of the order. Had he started the inning, he very likely would’ve been fine (even if he allowed a run, the Bucs were up 3). The fact that Qualls was trusted (or even available to BE trusted) instead in that situation is absolutely ridiculous. And of course, I could go on a Joel Hanrahan rant too (the Bucs blew a 3-run lead without using their best pitcher, ho-hum) but we all know that the possibility of using him never even entered Hurdle’s mind.

Anyway, Milwaukee tacked on another off Chris Leroux and the Bucs didn’t do anything else at the plate. We’ve seen a lot of deflating losses during this collapse, but this one puts the icing on the proverbial cake.

Brewers 9, Pirates 7 / Box / 2012 Record: 74-75 / Next: Friday, at Astros, 8:05

MVP: Barmes (+.279) / LVP: Resop (-.449) / Key play: Weeks’ triple

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