PITTSBURGH — Carlos Gomez rounded second, looked over his shoulder and darted for third.
And then, bizarrely, the speedy Milwaukee star stopped. A short rundown later he was trudging back to the dugout, his miscue symbolic of a team that can't seem to get out of its own way at the moment.
The Brewers managed just four hits off Pittsburgh starter Vance Worley, then ran themselves out of a chance to tie the game in the ninth during a 1-0 loss to the Pirates on Sunday. Milwaukee fell 4 1-2 games behind Pittsburgh for the second NL wild-card spot with a week to go.
"It sure doesn't look good," manager Ron Roenicke said. "They're a good team. They're playing well. You don't expect them to not play well here the last (seven) games. And we've got to basically win it out. It's not easy to do."
Not the way the Brewers are hitting. Milwaukee lost two of three during a pivotal three-game series with Pittsburgh, scoring all of three runs.
"We're in a position now we're hoping to get help from somebody and play great," Roenicke said.
Milwaukee isn't helping itself. The Brewers did little against Worley (8-4) before producing their only real threat in the ninth off Pittsburgh All-Star setup man Tony Watson, filling in because closer Mark Melancon wasn't available after working three straight games.
Gomez singled to start the inning. Pinch-hitter Rickie Weeks followed with a chopper over the pitcher's mound for an infield single. The throw to first by Watson squirted out of first baseman Gaby Sanchez's glove. Gomez took off for third only to pull up.
Even Gomez couldn't explain it.
"If I continued to run, it would have been really easy to make it to third because everybody broke for that ball and nobody was on third," Gomez said. "So I don't know why I stopped. It's just a mistake that you learn from."
"It's frustrating at the moment but the only thing we can do is move forward," Gomez said.
Peralta's only real miscue came in the seventh. McCutchen beat out an infield single then moved to second on a passed ball and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Russell Martin followed with a single back up the middle for the game's only run.
"When you pitch a game like that, you don't want to lose like that," said Peralta, who struck out four and walked three while losing for the fourth time in his last six starts. "But that's a baseball game. (Worley) pitched better than me."
The Brewers led the Pirates by 9 1-2 games in May but now need a major collapse by Pittsburgh and a hot streak to reach the postseason.
"As long as you still have a chance, you'll still continue to fight for it," Gomez said. "There's still six games to play, and early in the season we won nine games straight, so we know we can win six straight."
Brewers: Milwaukee is off Monday and opens a three-game series at Cincinnati on Tuesday. Mike Fiers (6-3, 1.78 ERA) will make his ninth start of the season. Fiers allowed one run in seven innings against St. Louis last week.
Pirates: Pittsburgh begins its season-ending seven-game road trip in Atlanta on Monday. Francisco Liriano (6-10, 3.45 ERA) has allowed three earned runs in his last five starts (33 innings). Liriano is 5-4 with a 2.39 ERA since returning from the disabled list in July.
Lucroy touched his facemask and pulled at the left sleeve of his undershirt before Garza's fastball grazed McCutchen with two outs in the fifth and the bases empty. Garza had plunked McCutchen in the third inning and both sides were given a warning when Pittsburgh starter Edinson Volquez threw inside on Ryan Braun, making Garza's ejection automatic.
Garza said after the game that anyone who thought he threw at McCutchen was an "idiot." Roenicke didn't disagree.
"If you're thinking he's calling for that, you're an idiot," Roenicke told reporters Sunday. "It was a great quote, and it's appropriate for anybody who thinks 'Luc' was doing that."
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