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09/12/07 5:50 PM ET

Brewers come back, then fall to Bucs

After erasing four-run deficit, bullpen gives it away in eighth

PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers never led on Wednesday, but you can still stick this one in the "tough loss" file. Whether this one hurts them more than the others, only the final standings will tell.

The Brewers tied the game in the top half of the eighth inning, only to lose it in the bottom half, leaving a team of men on base in the process and suffering a 7-4 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park.

"When we tied it up, I thought it was our game," said catcher Damian Miller, who hit a solo home run in the middle of the comeback. "It just didn't go our way."

The Brewers had opportunities to put some big numbers on the scoreboard in the seventh and eighth innings, when they collected six hits, three for extra bases, drew a walk and saw Miller hit by a pitch. Of those baserunners -- eight in all -- just two scored. The Brewers finished 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Milwaukee left runners at second and third in the seventh inning and stranded three runners in the eighth before reliever Derrick Turnbow (4-5) took the mound in the bottom of the frame, walking a pair of batters on the way to the loss.

"When you walk two guys in an inning, it comes into play," said Turnbow. "That's the nature of the beast when you pitch late in the game. The team comes from behind, they fought hard all game to tie the game and put us in position to win. When you're the guy who doesn't get the job done, it's tough."

Turnbow struck out the first batter he faced, but then walked the next two to set up a big inning. Ronny Paulino cashed in with a go-ahead single, and two batters later, pinch-hitter Josh Phelps delivered a two-run triple that put the game away.

"He struggled with his command," Yost said. "He got the first guy out and we thought he was going to roll. It was just one of those days."

The Brewers lost the series, 2-1, but went 3-3 on their trip to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and were guaranteed at least one more day in first place in the National League Central. The Cubs, temporarily one-half game back courtesy of the Milwaukee loss, had games scheduled in Houston on Wednesday and Thursday night.

The Brewers, meanwhile, are off on Thursday.

"You're never satisfied losing the last day," Yost said. "Especially when you battle back and tie it and lose it late."

The Pirates took a 4-0 lead on Brewers starter Dave Bush after three innings, but Milwaukee climbed back into the game, getting a run in the fourth inning when Ryan Braun scored on a Corey Hart double-play groundout, and another in the fifth on catcher Miller's solo home run.

Miller's fourth home run of the season cut the deficit to 4-2, and the Brewers tied it in the eighth after J.J. Hardy singled off reliever Franquelis Osoria and moved to third on Braun's double. Prince Fielder hit a run-scoring groundout against Damaso Marte, prompting another call to the bullpen for right-hander Shawn Chacon, who surrendered a game-tying triple to Hart that was nearly caught at the wall by center fielder Nyjer Morgan.

Chacon walked pinch-hitter Craig Counsell to face center fielder Bill Hall, who already had grounded into a pair of double plays but now had an opportunity to give the Brewers the lead with a hit or a fly ball. Instead, Hall struck out.

At the time, Yost had left-handed-hitting outfielder Gabe Gross on the bench, but he stuck with Hall, who was 4-for-11 lifetime against Chacon entering the at-bat. Had Yost sent Gross to the plate, Pirates manager Jim Tracy likely would have countered with lefty reliever John Grabow, and Gross is 1-for-10 against lefties this season. Yost's only right-handed-hitting options to counter that move would have been one of his reserve catchers -- Mike Rivera or switch-hitting catcher Johnny Estrada. Estrada is hitting .323 against left-handed pitching this season.

"Billy is a guy that has been a big part of our club right here, and to start looking every time we get in a situation to pinch-hit for Billy, that's ..." Yost said, not bothering to finish the thought. "He's been actually swinging the bat pretty good. The matchup was what I wanted."

After Miller was hit by a pitch, the Pirates did call for Grabow (3-1), their fourth pitcher of the inning. He induced a Geoff Jenkins groundout to end the rally.

"I had the matchups I wanted," Yost said. "We just didn't get the job done."

Bush surrendered a run on a first-inning infield single that could have gone for an inning-ending out, but he was hit harder in the third inning, when the first four Pirates hitters reached safely on the way to a three-run inning. Freddy Sanchez and Jose Bautista hit RBI singles, and Steve Pearce made it 4-0 with a run-scoring groundout.

"I thought I made some good pitches that got hit, for whatever reason," Bush said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.