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Brewers keep Pirates stuck on 81 wins

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- The quest for No. 82 will have to wait at least two more days.

A day after snapping a 20-year string of consecutive losing seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates' quest to record the franchise's first winning season since 1992 was put on hold due to a 9-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night.

The Brewers snapped a five-game losing streak with a five-run third inning against Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano, who had won three of his previous four starts and was 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in two starts against Milwaukee this season.

With the game tied 2-2, Liriano (15-7) allowed singles to Norichika Aoki and Carlos Gomez to open the third. Jonathan Lucroy put Milwaukee ahead 3-2 with a ground-rule double to left, and Aramis Ramirez followed with a line drive that bounced off the wall in center to score Gomez and Lucroy, giving the Brewers a 5-2 lead.

Milwaukee got two more in the inning when Ramirez scored on Jeff Bianchi's groundout and Yuniesky Betancourt scored on a wild pitch.

Considering the Milwaukee lineup was depleted, with leading hitter Jean Segura out due to illness and some end-of-the-bench players seeing action in an effort to load up on right-handed hitters, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke couldn't help but be impressed with his team's offensive effort.

The Brewers finished with 13 hits, and they went 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

"(Baseball) is hard to figure out sometimes," Roenicke said. "Every time I try to do it, it doesn't seem to go that way. Liriano has been having a great year. We saw him earlier this year and didn't do much off him. I don't know if it was location that was off or we were hitting some good pitches, but it was sure nice to see."

Liriano was done for the night after the third inning. He allowed seven runs on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts, two wild pitches and a home run.

"(I was) just missing my spots, I think," Liriano said. "You have to credit those hitters, too. (I was) missing my spot with the fastball, and they got pretty good swings on it."

Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta (9-14) endured an inconsistent performance but managed to work through six innings. He held Pittsburgh to three runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out six.

"He made some really good pitches when he needed to, but he struggled," Roenicke said. "He struggled with his command, and then all of a sudden on 3-2, he makes a real good pitch -- and he did it more than once -- so when he needed to make one, he did."

Peralta, who ranks second in the National League in losses, won for just the second time since July 14.

"It's been a tough year for me, I haven't got much run support for me this year," Peralta said. "But you have to try to make pitches and put some zeros on the board."

Pittsburgh's Jordy Mercer started the scoring with an RBI hit in the second, but the Brewers answered with two in the bottom of the inning on Khris Davis' two-run home run, his ninth of the season.

Pittsburgh pulled even in the third on an RBI single by Marlon Byrd.

Andrew McCutchen cut into the Brewers' lead in the fifth with a leadoff home run to left, his 19th of the year. Peralta followed by drilling Morneau with a pitch, and after the benches emptied for a moment, play continued as Byrd doubled to center.

Milwaukee right fielder Aoki preserved the four-run lead with a perfect throw, cut off by shortstop Bianchi, to catch Morneau at the plate.

The Pirates' loss, coupled with the Cardinals' 16-inning victory at Cincinnati, left Pittsburgh just 1 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis heading into a weekend showdown at Busch Stadium.

NOTES: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said that LHP Wandy Rodriguez felt good after a bullpen session Tuesday and is on track to make a rehab start Friday with Triple-A Indianapolis. Rodriguez has been out since early June due to forearm tightness. ... Hurdle said three Pirates on the 60-day disabled list -- James McDonald (shoulder), RHP Jeff Karstens (shoulder) and C Michael McKenry (knee) -- are not expected to return should Pittsburgh make the postseason. ... Segura is expected to be back in the lineup Friday, when the Brewers open a three-game series at Wrigley Field. ... Milwaukee LHP Tom Gorzelanny was unavailable for the second consecutive game due to shoulder tightness and will be examined Thursday by team physician William Raasch.
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