Losing tonight wasn't the end of the world for the Pirates, but when you need to win the series and have to face Adam Wainwright in one of those starts then losing this game is way less than ideal. The Bucs got a pretty solid start from Francisco Liriano but the bullpen really let them down again.
Jared Hughes has been one of the Pirates best relievers this year but after Liriano was pulled after giving up a leadoff single in the seventh Hughes was touched up for three runs after picking off Kolten Wong for the first out of the inning. Granted it didn't help that Andrew McCutchen still struggles in a big way to throw the baseball to the right base that all but allowed the third run to score but it went from a 1-0 game to a 3-1 game real quick.
The offense carried the team in Milwaukee. Tonight against John Lackey they hit the ball around most of the night but grounded into four double plays, two by Travis Snider, that really put the stop to a lot of promising innings. Pedro Alvarez went deep in the second inning and McCutchen went deep in the ninth but it wasn't enough. Starling Marte got a lot of a pitch with two outs and Russell Martin on second base in the ninth inning but landed just shy of the track in center. It was the second straight game where McCutchen led off the ninth inning with a home run to put the Pirates within one only to have them lose. He is a really good baseball player.
I think a lot of people are going to question the bullpen management tonight but I really don't think that was a problem. Liriano had good stuff tonight and struck out eight Cardinals but needed a 5-2-3 bases loaded double play in the sixth after walking two Cardinals with one out and then gave up the leadoff single in the seventh. It was dicey and I would rather take a guy out a batter too early than a batter too late. Hughes has been good all season and while you maybe could have brought in Tony Watson to face Jon Jay I don't have a problem at all with leaving Hughes in there. He just got beat.
Like I said, this was a really tough game to drop. The Pirates need all the wins they can get and while you can't expect to win 1-0 I think if you could have got to the eighth inning up 1-0 with Watson and Mark Melancon you would have had a good chance of doing so. Alas they did not. Have to go out and beat Lance Lynn tomorrow.