MILWAUKEE – Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez has practiced the play many times. Scoop a pitch in the dirt on a strikeout, make the throw to first base for an easy out.
Unfortunately for Sanchez, that’s not how it happened when it came time to make the play Sunday.
Sanchez threw the ball into right field, allowing two runners to score and helping the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pirates 4-1.
Milwaukee swept the series and won its ninth in a row.
The Brewers were leading just 2-1 in the sixth inning when Aramis Ramirez walked and moved to third on Lyle Overbay’s double.
Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton struck out Scooter Gennett, but the ball was in the dirt. Sanchez’s throw to first was wide, allowing Ramirez and Overbay to score.
“It would have been a much closer game if I didn’t butcher that play,” Sanchez said. “I take a lot of pride in my defense and I take a lot of pride in getting my pitchers through as many innings as possible.”
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Sanchez usually makes that play.
“We work with our catchers all the time on that exact play, usually everywhere we go. Field the bunt, clear the lane, make a throw,” he said. “He just didn’t finish the play. He just didn’t finish the throw.”
The play ended up being big in the game because Brewers pitcher Kyle Lohse dominated the Pirates, giving up just four hits in and striking out nine in 8 2/3 innings.
“He kept us off balance with his off-speed stuff. He was commanding the fastball to both sides of the plate,” Sanchez said.
“He mixed in a changeup to righties extremely well, which you don’t see very often. He had four pitches working.”
The Pirates got a solid performance from Morton (0-1), who pitched seven innings as the Pirates lost for the fourth time in five games.
“Charlie pitched a really good game today,” Hurdle said. “A couple of balls that he got up got hammered. We didn’t do as good a job as them on the offensive side.”
Lohse (2-1) retired 12 of his last 13 batters. He was pulled with two outs in the ninth after giving up a single to Andrew McCutchen. Will Smith struck out Pedro Alvarez on three pitches to record his first career save.
Martin Maldonado got the first hit of the game as he lined a double off the right field wall leading off the Milwaukee third. Lohse sacrificed and Carlos Gomez hit a sacrifice fly.
The Pirates tied it in the fourth. Starling Marte led off with a single, moved to third on a perfect hit-and-run single by Jose Tabata and scored on Andrew McCutchen’s sacrifice fly, just beating the throw from Gomez in center.
Ryan Braun doubled in the Milwaukee fourth and scored on a single by Ramirez, giving him 11 RBIs this year.
The Brewers will try for their 10th straight win Monday night when they host St. Louis. Matt Garza starts against the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn. ... The Pirates move on to Cincinnati, where Wandy Rodriguez will face Homer Baily of the Reds. ... The Brewers and the Pirates will meet again in a four-game series in Pittsburgh starting Thursday.