07/21/09 2:18 AM ET
Brewers can't dig out of early hole
Loss is first to Pirates in more than a year; Burns struggles
By Wayne Staats / MLB.com
Starting pitcher Mike Burns struggled early and tensions rose late, as the Brewers lost to the Pirates, 8-5, on a soggy Monday night in front of 11,471 at PNC Park, to break Milwaukee's 17-game winning streak against Pittsburgh. The game's first pitch was delayed for 2 hours 10 minutes because of rain.
The 17-game run was the longest in the Majors since the Orioles beat Kansas City 23 straight times from May 10, 1969, to Aug. 2, 1970.
Players from both teams' benches and bullpens ran out onto the field in the bottom of the eighth after the Pirates' Jeff Karstens was hit by a pitch by Milwaukee reliever Chris Smith. Karstens stared at Smith but was held back by Brewers catcher Jason Kendall. Things then heated up when Pirates pitching coach Joe Kerrigan started yelling with Kendall.
"From what a lot of guys have said and I've seen on TV, you either go or you don't go, I guess," Smith said. "It just makes a big mess if you stand and yell."
After the game, Smith said it wasn't intentional. The Pirates did and also saw it as retaliation for Karstens hitting Ryan Braun with a pitch after the left fielder hit a home run off Karstens on April 27.
"I was kind of expecting it," Karstens said. "They felt like they had to do what they had to do, I guess. I got mad because I got hit. They had a chance to hit me in Milwaukee and didn't take it."
Burns had his shortest outing of the season, giving up six runs on six hits while lasting only three innings.
The most damaging hit of the night came from Delwyn Young, who hit a three-run home run in the first inning. Burns has now surrendered seven long balls in 29 innings this season.
"It's tough when you get behind like we did real early," manager Ken Macha said. "Burns hung a changeup to Young, had a three-run home run that first inning. It looked like he had a chance to get out of that inning."
With four runs against them in the first, the Brewers have allowed 65 runs in the inning, the second most of any frame this season.
The Pirates added two more runs in the second. But Burns was hindered by an error from Craig Counsell, his third error at third base in 15 games. It was the first of a season-high-tying three errors for the Brewers in the game.
Bad luck then hurt Burns later in the inning as he almost got a double play with the bases loaded. Instead, the ball deflected off the pitcher and shortstop J.J. Hardy had difficulty tossing the ball, allowing a run to score without recording an out.
In three road appearances this year, including two starts, Burns has given up 13 runs in 11 2/3 innings.
"They're a team that -- they don't walk a lot," Burns said. "They swing early in the count, so I wanted to try to make tough pitches to hit early in the count. I fell behind a couple times."
The Brewers scored first on Prince Fielder's sacrifice fly to plate Counsell in the first. Fielder now has six RBIs in his last five games.
Interestingly, Fielder was the first Milwaukee hitter of the game to not get a hit. The first three batters singled to start the game, including Felipe Lopez.
Making his first start for the Brewers since being acquired from the D-backs on Sunday, Lopez hit a single to right. But he was quickly retired after being picked off by Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf.
Lopez swung a hot bat the rest of the game, singling in the third, notching a leadoff triple in the fifth and singling again in the ninth. By going 4-for-4 with a walk, he posted his second four-hit game of the season. It was also his first triple since June 23 and just his fourth since the start of last season.
"It's nice to contribute," Lopez said. "Takes a lot of butterflies off my stomach."
The only other run scored against Ohlendorf came on another sacrifice fly from Kendall. Despite the RBI, the catcher went 0-for-2 in the game with a walk, ending his season-high nine-game hitting streak.
The Brewers went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, with Braun's two-run home run in the ninth the only hit. It was Braun's first long ball since June 25.
Wayne Staats is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.