Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 9/18/12

The Pirates played a very lackluster game Monday night and opened up this week’s crucial series with a very flat loss to the Brewers.

A.J. Burnett wasn’t bad, but got into plenty of trouble early on. He was able to escape a jam in the first, but allowed a run in the second (and stranded the bases loaded). After that he settled down, but the Brewers pushed another run across in the sixth with three singles, including a fluky bunt play.

Meanwhile, the Pirate offense was silent all night against Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo’s typically been good against the Bucs (and against everyone) but the Pirates were able to get to him a few weeks ago (even though they gave up a ton of runs and lost). Tonight was a very different story. The Pirates looked a lot like the Cubs did Monday night against Kevin Correia – poor at bats, quick/easy outs, not a lot of good swings. Gallardo walked four and the Pirates loaded the bases in the second, but Burnett struck out to end their only real threat against him. They only had three hits – two by Neil Walker and one by Clint Barmes.

Meanwhile, the Brewers added on to the lead against the Pirate bullpen in the late innings. They did so largely thanks to the stolen base – they stole SEVEN on the night, the most the Pirates have allowed in a game since 1990. It was embarrassing. After the last one, I was pretty sure the ROOT broadcast picked up audio of Brewers players laughing. Obviously, the Pirates have been absolutely dreadful at preventing steals this season – that’s not news to anyone. Tonight just sort of brought it to the forefront – even though offense was the primary issue in the game, it was extremely painful to see the Brewers run at will and add on runs to put the game out of reach. This is not simply on Rod Barajas – although he’s certainly not helping the cause at all – because numerous times Pirates pitchers either paid little attention to the runners or took too long to get the ball to the plate, as they have all year. (Burnett is one of the prime culprits.) Clint Hurdle and even Neal Huntington have shrugged this off multiple times (implying that it helps the pitchers to concentrate and perform better against the hitter), but it’s long past the point where it needs to be addressed anyway.

OK, rant over. I suppose you could pull out the “they were really tired” card in regards to this sluggish performance, but this isn’t really the time to be making excuses. The Pirates now trail St Louis by 3.5 games and also trail two other teams in the race, including these Brewers. Their backs are against the wall and the remaining two games of this series are probably must-win games if they’re going to hang around in the race.

Brewers 6, Pirates 0 / Box / 2012 Record: 74-73 / Next: Wednesday, vs. Brewers, 7:05

MVP: Sanchez (+.032) / LVP: Marte (-.084) / Key play: Segura’s RBI single in 6th

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