Three-run seventh inning propels Pirates to victory

PITTSBURGH -- For the Pittsburgh Pirates, using some trickery to beat the nemesis Milwaukee Brewers by two runs made up for losing to them by 20.

Ryan Doumit drove in the go-ahead run, Steve Pearce added his third hit during Pittsburgh's three-run seventh inning and Andy LaRoche finished off the 6-4 victory Wednesday night with a variation of the hidden-ball trick.

The Brewers have lost nine straight, their longest slide since losing 10 straight late in the 2006 season. And they couldn't blame this one on reliever Trevor Hoffman. He's sitting out the two-game series as he sorts out his season-long struggles that include losing a ninth-inning lead Tuesday in Cincinnati.

This one got away from Milwaukee well before the ninth inning, even if Pittsburgh waited until then to extract some revenge for that 20-0 loss to Milwaukee on April 22 -- the worst defeat in club history. Milwaukee swept that three-game series by a combined score of 36-1, then beat the Pirates 17-3 for their 22nd consecutive home win over them on April 26.

Since then, the Pirates have won three straight against Milwaukee.

Hmm, was it merely a coincidence that James Brown's "The Payback" blared on the public address system before the game?

"It's good to get them back," LaRoche said. "It seems like the last couple of years they've been on the upper end of most of the games against us and it's good to get one back against them."

Octavio Dotel pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 11 opportunities, with the help of LaRoche's expert fake.

Ryan Braun stole second as Prince Fielder struck out, but was deked into taking a couple of steps toward third before LaRoche -- who left third unattended to cover second base -- tagged him out.

A few days before, LaRoche tried and failed to pull a similar play on the Phillies' Ryan Howard.

"I've always thought that when I get over there and play second ... if I get a short hop, I'm going to look like it's in the outfield and hopefully deke him and get him," LaRoche said.

Braun promised he won't get fooled again.

"I saw an opportunity, nobody was covering third base," he said. "He did some kind of `Matrix' thing, a reverse spin move, a heads-up play by him and a stupid play by me."

Brewers starter Randy Wolf was 7-0 with a 2.72 ERA in his previous 12 starts against the Pirates but, with the Brewers bullpen in disarray, might have been left in an inning too long.

"I said it earlier, everybody's worried about the ninth inning; we've had problems in those other innings," manager Ken Macha said.

Wolf (3-4) couldn't hold a 4-3 lead in the seventh as Garrett Jones and Doumit chased him with RBI singles ahead of Pearce's run-scoring single against reliever Todd Coffey. Wolf appeared to be struggling the inning before when Pittsburgh loaded the bases, but was allowed to start the seventh.

Wolf, who threw 118 pitches before being lifted, immediately got into trouble by allowing Lastings Milledge's leadoff single, and he walked Andrew McCutchen one batter later.

"Their 'pen hasn't been doing too good this year, so they kept him in and we ended up taking advantage of it and getting a few runs off him," LaRoche said.

Javier Lopez (1-0) retired the only two batters he faced for the victory.

The Pirates, 16-6 when they score the first run, took a 2-0 lead in the second with the help of Pearce's double. Braun's RBI double and Fielder's run-scoring single tied it in the fourth, only to have Pirates starter Brian Burres help himself with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the inning.

Casey McGehee hit his ninth homer in the sixth to tie it at 3, but the Brewers left 10 on base.

"For all of us, we know we are better than we have been," Braun said. "You preach everyday thinking it's the day you're going to turn it around."

Game notes
Milwaukee has been outscored 68-31 during its losing streak. ... Wolf is 8-2 in 15 starts against the Pirates. ... Wolf, who gave up six runs and 10 hits, surrendered at least four earned runs for the fifth time in eight starts.