Pirates come back but drop finale
Four-run seventh ties it; bullpen succumbs in eighth
MILWAUKEE -- Prince Fielder had his say, in more ways than one.
The slugging first baseman hit two home runs and scored the winning run in the eighth inning at Miller Park on Sunday, forcing the Pirates to settle for a third straight loss in the 6-4 defeat. Fielder also energetically discussed the big run, shouting in the general direction of pitcher Matt Capps, but the bigger story was a tough loss that came after the Pirates had rallied from four runs down.
"[We've been] involved in as many baseball games as we have in this early part of the season, and yet you look at this series here, we scored in four offensive innings in four games," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "We scored runs in four innings out of 36. It's tough to win when you do it that way."
As they did in the game-clinching seventh inning Thursday, Pittsburgh scored four times in that frame, knotting the game at 4, but Bill Hall's RBI single off Capps in the eighth broke the tie. Fielder led off the decisive inning with a single off John Grabow (0-1) and was standing on second with two outs when Hall took an 0-2 pitch up the middle off Capps.
Fielder slid safely past catcher Ryan Doumit's tag after center fielder Nate McLouth's heave to the plate, and then let everyone know.
"I thought it was pretty bush league what he did afterwards," Doumit said. "There's no need for that. Especially after what he said in the paper yesterday -- that, 'We don't need to brawl,' that, 'J.J. took care of everything.' To do something like that is bush league in my opinion."
He was referring to the seventh inning on Saturday, when Capps yielded a three-run homer to Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy. One batter later, the right-hander hit Fielder with a high and tight pitch that glanced off Fielder's raised arm, and Capps was subsequently ejected.
"Obviously, he wasn't very pleased last night in getting hit with a pitch, and can you blame him?" Tracy said. "To their credit, that ballclub over there is playing great baseball. They're pitching well, especially out of the back end of their bullpen, and they're getting good at-bats in big situations. They got another one today."
Tony Gwynn added an RBI double following Hall's single to make it a two-run game.
Chris Duffy snapped an 0-for-17 slide with a two-run homer in the seventh against starter Ben Sheets, who gave up two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 frames. Adam LaRoche followed with a two-out RBI single four batters later and Doumit's second hit of the game brought across the tying run.
Fielder belted two home runs to account for three of Milwaukee's early runs, and the first baseman also smacked a towering fly ball to right that Xavier Nady reeled in at the wall. All three at-bats came against right-handed starter Tony Armas.
"It was his day," Armas said. "I made some mistakes, and for a guy like that, you have to get the ball on the outside corner of the plate. It was right in the middle. What can I say? He had a good day."
Said Tracy of Armas, "He battled, I could tell you that. Obviously, he had a tough time with Prince Fielder, but right now, with the way he and J.J. Hardy are swinging the bat, there's a lot of guys in the National League that would be having at tough time with these guys."
The duo finished the four-game set 16-for-31 (.516) with five homers and 17 RBIs.
After giving up three earned runs in his previous two starts, Armas surrendered four runs on six hits in five innings. He also uncorked two wild pitches, one of which brought home a runner with two outs in the fourth to make it 4-0, but he wound up without a decision.
"It's good to be out there every five days, that's something that gives me a lot of confidence," Armas said.
Francisco Cordero notched his 12th save, and Carlos Villanueva (3-0) was credited with the win after 1 1/3 innings of scoreless work.
JR Radcliffe is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.