MILWAUKEE -- Sometimes in baseball, one inning is all it takes to change a game. For the Pirates on Friday, that inning was the bottom of the seventh.
Entering the inning, they held a one-run lead over the Brewers and looked for starter James McDonald to deliver one final solid inning before handing it over to the bullpen. When the inning came to a close, the Pirates trailed by five runs -- as they lost the series opener, 7-2, at Miller Park.
Within that seventh inning, the turning point came with two on and one out, as rookie shortstop Alcides Escobar drove a 1-1 fastball over the head of right fielder Lastings Milledge for a two-run, game-winning triple.
Off the bat, it looked like a routine line out to right field. As it reached Milledge, it was anything but.
"When I hit the ball, I thought, 'He's got it,'" Escobar said. "Then he turned around and lost the ball, and I ran."
"I looked up at the last minute and the lights got in my face," Milledge said. "That's a play that I make every day of the week. Unfortunately, I didn't make the play. It cost us big. I make that play in my back pocket every day of the week."
Following Milledge's misplay on the Escobar triple, the Brewers tacked on four more runs on a pair of singles and two doubles, sending 12 batters to the plate before the Pirates finally got out of the inning.
While an out on Escobar's triple could have saved the game for the Pirates, things really got out of hand when starter James McDonald and reliever Chris Resop were unable to close out the inning over the next five batters.
"They're one of the best hitting teams in all of baseball anyway. Just one play is all they need," Milledge said. "We were still in the game, only one run down, and they just took it over the top. It's what they do."
Milwaukee's six-run, six-hit rally in the seventh inning marred what had been a spectacular performance by McDonald.
Through five innings, the right-hander had allowed just one hit -- a bunt single by Escobar -- with zero walks and six strikeouts. In the sixth, McDonald made a big pitch to left fielder Ryan Braun to induce an inning-ending double play.
But in the seventh, Braun managed to put the exclamation point on the Brewers' victory.
"I thought McDonald threw the ball very well," said Pirates manager John Russell. "He just couldn't get out of that inning. After that, he just couldn't get back in the dugout. You can't give up six runs in the seventh."
McDonald finished with 6 1/3 innings pitched, surrendering six runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and a pair of walks. The outing was McDonald's second-longest this season -- but it was also his worst in terms of runs allowed.
Before the game, Russell talked about focusing on the preparation and process, while ignoring the result. When asked about his start afterward, McDonald seemed to be following that mentality.
"It's not frustrating, things happen. We played hard. Things didn't fall our way," McDonald said. "I felt like I had good stuff today. Sometimes I've had great stuff and I'm out in the fourth inning. I still went deep in the game. Things didn't fall our way, but we'll get them next time."
Through five innings, though, things were falling the Pirates' way.
Milledge got things started in the second, leading off with a double and coming around to score two batters later on an RBI single by Ronny Cedeno. In the fifth, catcher Chris Snyder added another run with a one-out solo homer off Brewers starter Chris Narveson.
But while Narveson (10-7) was not as sharp as McDonald through the first five innings, he benefited from the Brewers' big seventh inning, picking up his first win since Aug. 3 and matching his second-longest outing of the season -- going seven strong while allowing just two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts.
It looked through five innings like the Pirates would finally snap yet another double-digit road losing skid. Instead, the streak climbs to 11 straight losses away from PNC Park.
For Milledge, though, the way the team has played in the last week far outweighs the Pirates' 11-game road losing streak.
"You can say what you want to say about 11 straight, it doesn't matter, we've still got a chance to win the series," he said. "We've been playing good baseball here the last 4-5 days -- it just got away from us today. We're going to come back tomorrow and get it done."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.