Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 9/2/12

The Pirates’ woes in Miller Park appear to be back, as they dropped game two of this weekend’s series in extremely frustrating fashion and are now in danger of being swept.

A.J. Burnett delivered a solid start – his best in a while, and really deserved better. Burnett actually carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but allowed a run before it was even broken up. How? It’s not that hard to guess: walk, stolen base, another stolen base, and a wild pitch. Other than his continued stolen-base woes, A.J. was stellar early on, which was great to see after a pretty rough month for him.

The Pirates scored in the second on an impressive Pedro Alvarez opposite field blast (that’s number 27), but Brewers starter Marco Estrada essentially dominated other than that. He struck out ten in seven innings and allowed just four hits and a walk. Andrew McCutchen doubled earlier in the game and Alvarez had the homer, but both struck out with men on in the sixth – the Pirates’ only major threat against Estrada. That was frustrating, but even more frustration for the Pirates came towards the end of the game.

Burnett allowed a second run in the seventh on a walk, stolen base, and a double (only the second hit he allowed all night). The Pirates got the run back in the top of the eighth thanks to a clutch bloop single by McCutchen. Cutch then stole second and took third on a wild throw, giving Garrett Jones a chance to put the Bucs ahead. He was rung up on a pitch that was clearly outside to end the inning.

Jason Grilli did a phenomenal job working around a terrible error by Rod Barajas that put the leadoff man on second, so the Bucs had another chance to go ahead in the top of the ninth. Barajas singled with two outs and nobody on, and then Brewers closer John Axford got wild. He walked Michael McKenry and Gaby Sanchez, loading the bases for Alex Presley. Presley watched three fastballs – all clearly strikes – go right by him to end the inning. Terrible.

Clint Hurdle went to Joel Hanrahan in the bottom of the ninth – he usually doesn’t do that, but for some reason he did this time (probably because Joel had warmed up for a while anticipating the Bucs’ possibly taking the lead in the ninth). You know by now that I think he should always pitch in this situation, so OF COURSE Joel served up a meatball to Corey Hart right away for a walkoff homer. Right move, wrong result. It happens. Hopefully it doesn’t discourage Hurdle from doing it again.

Anyway, that was quite the emotional swing for the Pirates – Grilli escaping the tough jam in the 8th, then the Bucs loading the bases in the ninth, then Presley’s terrible strikeout and a walkoff homer. This isn’t an easy loss to swallow, and while the Brewers aren’t terrible and obviously have given the Pirates a ton of trouble, the Bucs really can’t afford to keep losing to a sub-.500 team like this. St. Louis finally won, so the Cards extended their lead on the final playoff spot to 1.5 games.

Brewers 3, Pirates 2 / Box / 2012 Record: 70-62 / Next: Sunday, at Brewers, 2:10

MVP: McCutchen (+.250) / LVP: Hanrahan (-.366) / Key play: Hart’s HR

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