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Must C Curious: Brewers score two on throwing error

MILWAUKEE -- Prior to Sunday's finale of the series here with the Brewers, manager Clint Hurdle tried to put into words why it is easier for the Pirates to play tight games than it is for the fans to watch them.

"We do this. It's what we get to do for a living," Hurdle had said. "We don't ride that roller coaster that a lot of people are on."

It may have been a fair generic assessment, but it certainly didn't apply a couple of hours later to catcher Tony Sanchez, who felt the big dipper as his defensive gaffe lowlighted the Bucs' 4-1 loss to the Brewers.

It helped Milwaukee stretch its winning streak to nine by completing the sweep of the Pirates in front of an announced 30,152 in Miller Park.

Yet a rather magnificent thing happened in the aftermath of the completion of the Pirates' first sweep since the Cardinals took it to them on Sept. 6-8. His teammates showed Sanchez unfailing support, to the extent of not conceding that he had done anything unusual.

"Those things happen. Mistakes are made, we've all done it," said Charlie Morton, Sanchez's batterymate. "I don't think Tony had a tough day. He didn't do anything he should be ashamed of."

In that vein, no one on Pittsburgh's bench had any peculiar reaction when Sanchez returned to the dugout in the aftermath of any catcher's worst nightmare: When a simple throw goes wild and turns into two runs.

The Brewers already led 2-1 when they pulled away, not with their bats, but with Sanchez's arm.

"I butchered a routine play," Sanchez would reflect, "and that can't happen in that situation."

In baseball, they say, the ball will always find you, referencing the likelihood of the ball being hit to someone playing out of position. Apparently, you can't hide from phobias, either.

Sanchez has acknowledged his problem with throwing, and has put in a lot of overtime work on getting past it.

Yet in Sunday's sixth inning, it ambushed him out of nowhere, leading to a major hang-your-head moment.

The Brewers had men on second and third with one away when Morton fanned Scooter Gennett on a wicked curve -- so wicked that it also short-hopped Sanchez.

No problem. Seen dozens of times every week across the schedule, calling for the catcher to make the output for the strikeout at first base. It's a routine baseball play. Sanchez came out of his crouch to retrieve the ball, looked the runners back and moved up a few steps to give himself a perfect throwing lane to first.

That is when it became a problem.

"I blew open with the front shoulder, and kinda rushed it," Sanchez said.

His throw went wide of first baseman Travis Ishikawa, into the right-field corner, as Aramis Ramirez scored from third and Lyle Overbay scored from second. The Brewers were up 4-1, and Sanchez's chin was on his chest.

It was a shocking turn of events, and it gave Milwaukee righty -- and Pirates nemesis -- Kyle Lohse all the second wind he needed. Thereafter, he struck out the next five men and retired nine in a row before Andrew McCutchen's two-out single in the ninth had manager Ron Roenicke waving to his bullpen.

"In a one-run ballgame," Sanchez said, "it's hard enough to tie it up against a guy who has all four of his pitches working. Then you put your team down three runs to a guy who is on. Not a good recipe."

The Bucs had pulled into a 1-1 tie in the fourth, when Jose Tabata's perfectly executed hit-and-run single set up a sacrifice fly from McCutchen off Lohse.

"We manufactured that one run off him, but he came back tough, working ahead of hitters," Hurdle said of Lohse, whose career record against Pittsburgh went to 10-2 when Will Smith fanned Pedro Alvarez for the save.

The Brewers had jumped to a 1-0 lead in the third, when Martin Maldonado's leadoff double led to Carlos Gomez's sacrifice fly.

In the fourth, a pair of trends ganged up on Morton to again put him behind. Ryan Braun led off with a double -- his seventh hit in 13 career at-bats against Morton -- and Ramirez followed with an RBI single, his ninth hit of this season in 12 at-bats with a runner in scoring position.

"Braun, I'm sure, was trying to protect in, because I was working him inside, and I threw a pitch middle-away and he went with it [into the right-field corner]," Morton said. "Ramirez … he got to a sinker that I didn't think was a bad pitch at all, down and in. I don't know if he was cheating or just got to it, but he hit it really well."

Holding an extremely hot lineup to two earned runs across seven innings wasn't enough to please Morton.

"No," he said. "We lost. I think I threw the ball OK, but I gave up more runs than Kyle did. And we're out there to win. We have to turn it around."

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