04/28/10 1:21 AM ET
With streak over, focus turns to rubber game
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Tuesday's win, which featured a Ryan Doumit go-ahead grand slam off closer extraordinaire Trevor Hoffman, allowed the Pirates to end their flirtation with history. And still, it was noteworthy, as their losing streak in Milwaukee was the longest for a National League club since the Cardinals beat the Reds 25 straight times in St. Louis from 1929-31.
But now it's history, and the Pirates can go back to concentrating on the bottom line. The Brewers have outscored the Pirates 56-11 this season, and Tuesday's victory broke a seven-game losing streak for Pittsburgh. The Pirates are 8-1 when scoring at least four runs and 0-11 when they don't, but one key observer thinks it's all about the pitching.
"Sometimes in these things, if you can get that one quality start, that can turn things around," said Pittsburgh manager John Russell. "When things are going bad, someone tries to step up and maybe it puts too much pressure on the starter. If you can get someone to step up -- usually it takes a couple guys -- then it starts to get a little contagious."
The Pirates got that kind of start from Jeff Karstens on Tuesday, and they'll have the right guy on the mound Wednesday. Pittsburgh has seen its starter complete six innings just seven times in 2010, and Paul Maholm has done it three times. Milwaukee will counter with Chris Narveson, who will be making his first start of the season.
"I just want to go out and pitch effectively and get ahead of hitters," said Narveson, who has allowed at least one run in seven of his last nine relief outings. "I want to make sure to get the ball down in the zone and get a lot of ground-ball outs."
Pirates: A number of starters
Pittsburgh has used eight different starting pitchers in their first 20 games, which is the most it's used since 1953. Pittsburgh used eight in its first 15 games that year, but Russell has reason to believe his starters are settling in for the long haul. And with the rotation returning to Maholm, Russell has bigger things to worry about for the next 24 hours.
"Our hitters need to start taking some heat off our pitchers, too. And start scoring early," said Russell. "The bottom line is that the guys that are here need to settle down and pitch. They've done it in the past and we know they can do it again. It's just a matter of going out and doing it. They've got to get the job done. If they don't, we've seen how ugly it can get."
Brewers: Hoffman struggling
Hoffman, the game's all-time leader in saves (594), appears to be slowing down this season. The veteran has allowed at least one run in five of his eight appearances this year, and he's already allowed more home runs (four) than he did all of last season. Hoffman is now 3-for-6 in save opportunities, notching one fewer blown save than he had last year (37-for-41).
Milwaukee got a sturdy performance from Randy Wolf on Tuesday night, but it was still one that broke a streak. The Brewers had seen their starting pitchers go 24 innings without allowing an earned run against Pittsburgh this season. Wolf left as the pitcher of record, and after Hoffman's blown save, Milwaukee's starters are 4-0 with a 0.56 ERA against the Pirates this year.
Andy LaRoche had four hits Tuesday night and is now batting .666 (12-for-18) in his last four games. LaRoche is hitting .472 (14-for-36) this season. ... Prince Fielder has played in 205 consecutive games, the longest active streak in baseball and the fifth-longest streak in Milwaukee's franchise history. ... Pittsburgh's starting pitchers have lost their last seven decisions. In fact, Pittsburgh's rotation has gone 3-12 with an 8.29 ERA. ... Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit has thrown out just one out of 16 stolen base attempts this year. In fact, Pittsburgh catchers have elected not to throw (three times) more than they've thrown people out (once). ... Garrett Jones is batting .333 (15-for-45) with seven extra-base hits against Milwaukee since the start of last season.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.