The poor performance from the bullpen tonight, with Justin Wilson and Bryan Morris both giving up runs with the Pirates tied late in the game, along with the weird bullpen useage by Clint Hurdle (I still have no idea why Bryan Morris pitched the eighth inning over Tony Watson tonight, or why Morris seems to be the guy Hurdle goes to before Watson every single time) are going to draw a lot of the ire from the fans in the immediate aftermath of this one, but it's worth noting that at one point the Pirates were down 5-0 in this game.
That happened because Jeff Locke was terrible again. Tonight his line was 4 2/3 innings, eight hits, and five runs. That's 16 runs in his last three starts, and the fourth time in his last six starts that he hasn't made it out of the fifth inning. This is a problem. The late game stuff — particularly using Watson over Morris — is problematic, but none of it moreso than Locke's troubles. I really don't see how they can put him back out on the mound in five days against the Cardinals. Honestly, that just seems foolish.
What makes this one so frustrating is that the Pirates scored plenty of runs on a night when the Brewers sent Kyle Lohse to the ground, they got some huge hits (Walker and Alvarez's homers feature prominently here) and dug out of a big hole, then out of a smaller one, and that still wasn't enough for the pitching staff. Games like this one are just hard to watch.
As I type this, the Cardinals lead the Reds 4-1, so it seems likely that the Pirates will drop to 1 1/2 games behind the NL Central leaders. The margin for error is getting thinner and thinner.