Bullpen starting to feel burn, falls again
Chavez allows decisive homer; Maholm allows five runs
MILWAUKEE -- The Miller Park hex lives another day.
With another golden opportunity to snap a dubious streak, the typically reliable Pittsburgh bullpen coughed up another game as the Pirates were handed a 6-5 defeat against the Brewers on Tuesday night at surely their least favorite ballpark on the planet.
Pittsburgh (11-9) suffered its 14th straight loss to the Brewers and 17th consecutive defeat at Miller Park. The losing streak dates back to the 2007 season.
"It's tough to play here, but we have to get over it," said Pittsburgh starter Paul Maholm, who lasted just 5 1/3 innings in his shortest outing of the season. "It's a different year. ... We have to just come out and win. That's the bottom line."
The Pirates were in perfect position to do so with a 5-1 lead in the fifth inning. The Brewers (10-10) plated two runs in the fifth and took the lead with a three-run sixth inning. Milwaukee third baseman Bill Hall led off the sixth with a solo home run on a hanging changeup from Maholm before Rickie Weeks clubbed a two-run shot just three batters later off of reliever Jesse Chavez (0-1).
Weeks turned on an inside fastball from Chavez and deposited it 375 feet into the left-field bleachers in giving the Brewers the lead for good.
The Bucs' bullpen, which entered the series as one of the best in the Majors, allowed five runs in the eighth inning during Monday's 10-5 defeat.
"It's tough in this ballpark with a team that's swinging the bat really well right now," manager John Russell said. "We couldn't hold them again. When you make mistakes they're going to make you pay for them."
Maholm worked in and out of trouble all night. The left-hander benefited from a pair of ground ball double plays in each of the first two innings and got out of bases-loaded jams in the third and fourth innings.
Maholm was removed with one out in the sixth after serving up the leadoff homer to Hall and a single to pinch-hitter Craig Counsell. Chavez, who allowed just one run in his first eight appearances, needed just two pitches to give up the lead.
Pittsburgh took a 2-1 edge in the third inning on a two-run double from Eric Hinske, added a run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Nyjer Morgan and built a 5-1 advantage in the fifth on a two-run double from Wisconsin-native Jason Jaramillo.
Jaramillo's two-out double came after Brewers starter David Bush came inside and hit Hinske and Andy LaRoche in back-to-back plate appearances. Jaramillo then sent a ball into the right-center-field gap to plate both runners.
"We scored some runs," Russell said. "We just didn't pitch like we're capable of pitching. You have to give [the Brewers] a lot of credit. They're swinging the bats well from top to bottom."
Jeff Zampanti is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.