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Errors costly in Bucs’ extra-inning loss

August 29, 2010

MILWAUKEE — One bad inning is all it takes to send you from a win to a loss. Within that inning, it’s often one hit or one defensive play that makes the difference.

It took two innings and two defensive miscues to complete the job on Saturday, but the seventh inning made all the difference for the second consecutive night at Miller Park as the Pirates lost, 8-7, to the Brewers.

On Friday, it was a six-run rally highlighted by a misplayed line drive to right field that turned into a game-winning two-run triple. In the second game of the series, a pair of errors by rookie infielders Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker allowed the Brewers’ tying and winning runs to score, respectively.

“We always know every time we come here it’s going to be a battle,” Walker said. “Four-run lead, three-run lead, whatever it may be, it’s never safe here when we play these guys.”

In a long game that featured 14 pitchers, 21 position players and lasted more than four hours, lefty reliever Wil Ledezma finally surrendered a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th to rookie center fielder Lorenzo Cain, scoring Ryan Braun from second and sending the Brewers fans among a crowd of 37,782 home happy.

“That was awesome — my first Major League walk-off,” said Cain, who also scored the tying run in the seventh.

Without a fielding error by Walker at second base, the 11th inning may have turned out much differently. As Prince Fielder ripped a grounder toward the rookie second baseman, Walker misplayed it, allowing Braun to advance and putting Fielder aboard safely at first.

“It’s a play I’ve got to make. Plain and simple,” Walker said. “I’ll take the blame. We played our butts off today and a couple of mistakes just cost us the game.”

The other mistake for the Pirates came in that crucial seventh inning.

Entering the seventh inning, lefty Zach Duke was in line for his first career win at Miller Park and the Pirates led by three runs, sitting just three innings from their first road win since July 28 at Colorado.

But after reliever Sean Gallagher gave up a leadoff single to Braun, he was removed in favor of left-hander Brian Burres. As Burres hung a 1-2 slider on the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Fielder didn’t miss it, sending the ball an estimated 455 feet to right-center field for his second home run of the game and his 20th career multi-homer game.

Four batters later, Chan Ho Park appeared to have gotten out of the inning, but a fielding error charged to Alvarez on a hard hit grounder to third allowed Cain to tie the game at 7.

“It’s a tough play, but again, it kind of shows our youth a little bit,” said Pirates manager John Russell. “We make those plays and it might be a different game, but the guys really battled. They kept after it.”

While he would have gotten the win had it not been for the seventh inning, Duke was not exactly sharp.

He allowed four runs on nine hits while walking one, recording one strikeout and surrendering a pair of solo home runs.

“It was definitely a battle from the first hitter on,” Duke said. “My location wasn’t very good and my stuff wasn’t all that great. Everything was giving me problems.”

Despite his struggles, Duke did outduel Brewers starter and fellow lefty Chris Capuano.

Starting in place of Manny Parra for Milwaukee, Capuano was roughed up for six runs on six hits in just three innings of work while walking three and giving up two home runs.

“I had flashes tonight where I thought I had great sequences to guys, and then I had flashes where I was having some problems with command,” Capuano said. “I have to do a better job than that. That’s obvious.”

Parra replaced Capuano in the fourth, and proceeded to put down nine of 10 batters faced through three innings of work. He gave up just one hit, a fourth-inning single to Walker, while striking out three batters.

Left fielder Jose Tabata highlighted the Pirates’ offensive outburst, as he homered in the first inning and finished 3-for-5, adding a double and a single. Catcher Chris Snyder also added his second home run of the series in the third, a three-run shot that put the Pirates up, 6-2, at the time.

Walker added a solo homer in the seventh — which appeared to be insurance for the Pirates — off reliever Mike McClendon. Seven runs marked the most scored by the Pirates since a 7-1 victory over the Marlins on Aug. 16.

The loss is the 12th straight on the road for the Pirates, and secures yet another road series loss for Pittsburgh. In 21 road series this season, including the current three-game set with the Brewers, the Pirates now have lost 16 series with just four series wins and one tie.

“It’s tough coming in here, but we battled with them tonight,” Duke said. “Hopefully we can get one tomorrow.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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