The Brewers try to get back on track and avoid being swept by the Pirates for the first time in three years in Wednesday night’s finale at PNC Park.
Milwaukee (58-61) hoped a series against the Pirates (48-70), a team it usually dominates, would be just what it needed to break out of its funk, but that hasn’t been the case.
After losing 9-5 in Monday’s opener, the Brewers suffered a 5-2 defeat Tuesday to drop eight games behind wild card-leading Colorado. Milwaukee won the NL wild card last season, but a second straight trip to the playoffs appears unlikely.
The Brewers, who had won 20 of 23 over Pittsburgh prior to this series, have lost three straight and own the majors’ seventh-worst record since July 1 at 16-23.
“If any team wants to lay down, at any point, that’s pretty weak. We’re not laying down,” Tuesday’s losing pitcher Manny Parra(notes) told the Brewers’ official Web site. “We’re trying to win every game from here on out. What else happens, you can’t control, but you can still go out and try to win the game.”
Pittsburgh, which hasn’t swept Milwaukee since winning four straight at PNC Park from May 29-June 1, 2006, is taking advantage of the Brewers’ struggles, winning two in a row after dropping 17 of 20.
The Pirates’ offense has been revitalized, hitting five homers in the first two games of this series after failing to hit one in their previous five contests.
Gallardo gave up two runs and three hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of an 11-2 win over Houston on Friday, the second straight start he yielded two runs. Backed by eight first-inning runs against the Astros, the right-hander was the beneficiary of some rare offensive help after receiving an average of 2.36 runs of support over his previous eight outings.
He hasn’t needed much support when facing Pittsburgh.
Gallardo is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two starts versus the Pirates this season and 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his last five outings against them, with the Brewers winning each time.
After allowing one run and four hits in eight innings of a 2-1, 14-inning win over San Francisco in his first start after the All-Star break, Maholm is 0-3 with a 7.42 ERA in his last five. He was tagged for seven runs and 11 hits - including two home runs - in 6 1-3 innings of a 10-1 loss to Colorado on Thursday.
One of Maholm’s subpar outings over the past month came against the Brewers, as the left-hander yielded seven runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-7 win on July 22.
Although he was hit hard, the Pirates still managed to win. Maholm was 0-5 with a 5.17 ERA in his previous nine starts against Milwaukee with Pittsburgh losing each.
Brewers slugger Prince Fielder(notes) homered in his third consecutive game Tuesday, giving him 32 on the season, but he hasn’t had much success against Maholm, going 3 for 30 with nine strikeouts lifetime.