Bucs can't stop slide in finale vs. Crew
Limited to one hit by Sabathia while dropping 10th straight
PITTSBURGH -- The last time the Pirates were on the wrong end of a no-hitter, the Cardinals' Bob Gibson was on the bump Aug. 14, 1971. On Sunday afternoon in front of 21,293 fans at PNC Park, Brewers left-hander CC Sabathia came within an infield single of matching the Hall of Famer.
Andy LaRoche hit a slow roller toward the mound in the fifth inning, but Sabathia was unable to field the ball cleanly. Official scorer Bob Webb immediately ruled it a hit, and it was the lone blemish the Bucs would put on Sabathia's line in a 7-0 loss.
"I could not see where that would be scored an error," Pirates manager John Russell said.
Brewers manager Ned Yost saw it differently.
"That's a joke. That wasn't even close," Yost fumed. "Whoever the scorekeeper was absolutely denied Major League Baseball a nice no-hitter right there. They put hit up on that board before he even hit the bag. That's a play CC makes easily, throws him out by 10 feet. For me, it's a no-brainer. That's sad."
LaRoche described the hit from his point of view.
"It was 2-2 and it was the first slider I'd seen all day," he said. "I was sitting changeup and saw a slider, so I tried to check swing and just got it on the ground and tried to run as hard as I could hoping to make something happen.
"I'm sure they'll change it to an error, but I'd like to think it's a hit. He tried to barehand it. [He] doesn't deserve a hit, but that happens sometimes in games. You hit it hard right at them sometimes and you hit it soft or get a broken bat and you get a hit. They like to say it evens out, but I don't think it really does."
"I was just thinking about finishing the game and I wasn't thinking 'What if?' or whatever," Sabathia stated. "If I had picked it up with my glove, there would be no discussion."
Webb backed up his decision to award LaRoche a single.
"I saw it, called it immediately, believed it was a hit," Webb explained. "I think that's a hit in every circumstance. It was a difficult play. Even if he comes up with the ball cleanly, in my estimation, he's got more than ordinary difficulty in getting the runner at first base."
The loss was the 10th in a row for the Bucs, who have dropped 14 of their past 16 games. The Brewers are now 11-1 against the Pirates this season.
In Sabathia's fifth shutout of the season, he recorded 11 strikeouts and upped his record to 9-0 since the Brewers acquired him from the Cleveland Indians. He won his career-high 12th consecutive decision over his past 16 starts.
"He's dominating," Russell stated. "He is one of the, if not the best pitchers in the National League and he showed it today. He's very tough to hit."
LaRoche gave a tip of the cap to the big lefty.
"God, he was just mixing it up," LaRoche marveled. "Any count, he was just throwing his changeup and keeping us off balance all day. And he was hitting his spots. When you throw 92-96 [mph] and you throw a changeup any time and a slider anytime in the count, it's going to be a long day for the hitters."
Right-hander Jeff Karstens, making his sixth start for the Pirates since being acquired in a July 26 trade with the New York Yankees, allowed three runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings of work. He suffered the loss, falling to 2-4 on the season.
"Karstens threw great," Russell offered. "He threw the ball very well and he did what he's capable of doing. He mixed speeds and he kept the ball down and kept them off balance."
Milwaukee jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead when Rickie Weeks led off the game with a home run to left field of Karstens.
"You take away the first hitter of the game and he's right there with Sabathia," said Russell. "Unfortunately our bullpen didn't do a very good job of holding it at that point, but as it turned out, one run was going to be enough for him."
The Brewers got to Karstens again in the top seventh inning. With one out, Corey Hart doubled and Gabe Kapler drew a walk. Right-hander Tyler Yates relieved Karstens and was greeted with a two-run double by Bill Hall, giving Milwaukee a 3-0 lead.
Karstens was pleased with his outing, if not the final results.
"I'm not happy that we lost," Karstens said. "That's the way it goes. Sabathia also had a no-hitter [going] and it was just one of those days where we didn't do our job and he did."
Milwaukee increased its lead to 4-0 on a cue-shot RBI single to left off the end of Prince Fielder's bat. A wild pitch by reliever Sean Burnett allowed Ryan Braun to score, and Kapler stroked a two-run double, upping the Brewers' advantage to 7-0.
The Pirates embark on a 10-game swing and are hoping that their fortunes change on the road after an 0-6 homestand.
"We just need to regroup and get going again," Russell opined. "These guys are working awfully hard and we'll be fine."
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.