Four-run eighth dooms Brewers chances of sweeping Pirates

Mike McGinnis

An eight game home winning streak ended today in familiar fashion.

W: Bryan Morris (1-1)
L: John Axford (0-3)
S: Jason Grilli (11)

HR: Carlos Gomez (5), Yuniesky Betancourt (7), Pedro Alvarez (5), Michael McKenry (3), Starling Marte (3)

MVP: Hiram Burgos (+.239 WPA)
LVP: John Axford (-.572)

Win Expectancy Graph
Box Score

For some time now the question regarding John Axford has been not if, but when he'd be moved back into the closer role in place of friend and fellow Canadian Jimmy Henderson. After today, the answer to that question may be "not for a while."

Axford and Michael Gonzalez combined to allow four runs in the eighth inning today, blowing a 4-2 lead in what would eventually become a 6-4 loss to the Pirates. Starling Marte's home run was the big blow, and it's the second long ball Axford has allowed in his last three outings. He's now given up six home runs this season in just 11.1 innings.

The positive to take away from today's game was the performance of Hiram Burgos, who did a great job on a day when the bullpen would benefit from a break. He pitched a career-high seven innings and allowed two runs on four hits, walking one and striking out six. The two runs both came on solo home runs, and Brewer pitchers have now allowed 13 in their last seven games.

The Brewers had seven hits today, including two for Carlos Gomez as his hot streak continues. His home run was his fifth of the season, he now has an eight-game hitting streak and has multiple hits in six of those games.

Despite losing two of three in Milwaukee the Pirates will remain in sole possession of first place in the NL Central heading into play tomorrow. At 14-12 the Brewers are a game and a half back and in third place.

The Brewers return to evening action tomorrow when they open their first four-game series of the season against the Cardinals. Jake Westbrook will take on Wily Peralta at 7:10.

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