MILWAUKEE (AP) - Their starter got ``sideways,' and the Pirates couldn't straighten themselves out.
Erik Bedard was chased in the fourth inning and Pittsburgh managed only five hits in a 5-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.
``Every starting pitcher is going to have a sideways game. That was his sideways game so far this season,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``It was his overall command. The curveball wasn't in play at all. He couldn't throw it for strikes and they weren't chasing it. The changeup wasn't effective. He was just below average across the board and threw way too many pitches in the fourth.'
Bedard (3-6) allowed five hits, five runs and three walks in 3 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season other than a May 9 game against Washington that he left in the second because of back spasms.
Shaun Marcum (4-3) pitched seven strong innings for Milwaukee, giving up five hits while striking out eight without a walk.
``He's an effective pitcher. He's a guy that's going to use the corners well and keep the ball down and throw any pitch of his at any time,' Pittsburgh's Garrett Jones said. ``Everything looks good coming out of his hand but as a hitter you've got to be patient. He throws the ball with just enough movement and just out of the hitting zone. His ball was moving pretty good today.'
Milwaukee has won five of six. Pittsburgh had won two in a row and six of seven.
Brooks Conrad provided the big blow for Milwaukee, hitting a home run to end his 0-for-27 slump to start the season. Conrad had three RBIs.
Cody Ransom had a two-run single for Milwaukee and Rickie Weeks - hitting just .158 coming in - reached base all four times with two hits and two walks. Weeks also stole two bases as the Brewers bounced back from an ugly 8-2 loss to the Pirates on Friday.
``It's never very fun to go oh-for-whatever to start it out,' Conrad said. ``But all along I stayed with the same approach and stayed as positive as I could. And it paid off today. I got a hit there in a big spot and came through for the team.'
Conrad had a sacrifice fly in the second to put Milwaukee up 1-0 after the Brewers loaded the bases with no outs.
Jones' 453-foot homer in the fourth tied it at 1.
``I definitely felt good to get one like that,' Jones said. ``I got a fastball up over the plate and I felt like I took a swing at it like I've been trying to find all year. It felt nice and short and relaxed.'
Milwaukee responded with four runs in the bottom half. Ramirez led off with a single and Weeks doubled. Ransom, hitless in his last 13 at_bats, followed with a two-run single and Conrad smacked an opposite-field homer just over the wall and into the picnic area in right field.
``Those curveballs that I hung, they took advantage of them,' Bedard said. ``The home run, I don't know how it went out, but it went out.'
The swing ended a painful streak for Conrad.
The former Atlanta Braves infielder signed a minor league contract with the Brewers in January, with an invitation to spring training. He didn't make the opening-day roster and began the season at Triple-A Nashville. He was hot early, hitting .400 with five homers and 13 RBIs before a May 4 call-up to help replace infielder Mat Gamel after his season-ending knee injury.
After going 0 for 21 with Milwaukee, Conrad was optioned back to Nashville on May 19. He didn't stay down long. He hit five homers with 15 RBIs in six games with the Sounds from May 21-26, and the Brewers recalled him Monday.
Both starters were coming off wins. Bedard gave up two hits in six scoreless innings in a victory against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. Marcum allowed six hits and one run against the Los Angeles Dodges on Monday, striking out nine.
``That's the same Marcum I've seen for three years now, even longer,' Hurdle said. ``You have to make a commitment to hit his soft stuff and we did not do that. We were aware of what we needed to do going in. That was the disappointing part.
``He continues to challenge hitters' discipline, and hitters bite. And we bit.'
Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez came out in the seventh inning with a left quadriceps strain and will be re-evaluated by team doctors Sunday. Manager Ron Roenicke called the injury a ``slight pull' and said Ramirez could have stayed in the game.
Milwaukee also was without slugger Ryan Braun, who aggravated his right Achilles tendon injury and strained his right hip sliding into second base Friday.
Roenicke said it's possible neither Braun nor Ramirez will play Sunday. The team has a day off Monday.
NOTES: Ransom also made a spectacular play in the sixth, diving on a hard-hit grounder by Neil Walker up the middle and then, from his stomach, flipping the ball to Weeks, who barely beat Jones to the bag for the force out. ... It was Cerveceros Day at Miller Park. Both teams wore Spanish-language jerseys, and Brewers RHP Yovani Gallardo took pregame batting practice wearing a large foam sombrero. ... Brewers RHP Mike Fiers makes his second major league start Sunday after winning the first one in impressive fashion Tuesday against the Dodgers (seven innings, five hits, one run, no walks, three strikeouts). The Pirates counter with James McDonald, who is coming off a strong start of his own (eight scoreless innings against the Reds on Monday). McDonald went 3-1 with a 1.54 ERA in five starts in May but is 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA in two career starts against the Brewers.
The Associated Press News Service
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