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Joe Rutter

MILWAUKEE – Joe Beimel’s chance of remaining in the Pirates pitching rotation appeared to melt Monday night like Wisconsin cheese in a high-powered microwave.

Given one last chance to make a favorable impression before September call-ups, Beimel couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning, as the Milwaukee Brewers pounded their way to a 12-5 victory over the Pirates at Miller Park.

Beimel (5-11), the fifth starter in the Pirates rotation, lost his fifth consecutive decision and seventh in the past eight starts after giving up six runs in 3{2/3} innings and failing to protect 2-0 and 3-1 leads.

The loss, the eighth in a row for the Pirates on the road, dropped them 34 games below .500 for the first time since the end of the 1986 season and clinched a ninth consecutive losing season.

In his 15 starts this season, Beimel has a 4-10 record and a 6.43 ERA. He has worked six innings just once.

With rosters expanding this weekend, Beimel likely will lose his spot to right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, the prospect acquired from the San Francisco Giants who has spent this month pitching at Class AAA Nashville. Beimel could get a reprieve, however, because of a doubleheader next Monday against the Brewers.

After Beimel lasted 2{1/3} innings in his previous start, Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said he would sleep on his decision to make changes to the rotation and, ultimately, gave Beimel another start.

Would McClendon sleep on it again•

‘Depends on whether I get any sleep,’ McClendon said. ‘I’m not sure that’s going to happen tonight.’

For two innings, it looked like Beimel was making a statement for remaining a starter. He retired the first six batters he faced. But the Brewers scored once in the third and five times in the fourth for a 6-3 lead.

‘I thought he was throwing the ball pretty good and was being aggressive with his fastball,’ McClendon said. ‘Joe has to get to the point when he gets runners on the base, he can’t get flustered and get out of his game and stop making pitches. I think he tried to force the issue a little bit and it got out of hand.’

The Pirates pulled within 6-4, but the Brewers scored two runs off Bronson Arroyo, three off Damaso Marte and one off Mike Fetters. Richie Sexson homered twice and drove in five runs. Jose Hernandez and Jeromy Burnitz also homered, and Mark Loretta had a two-run single.

Aramis Ramirez and Craig Wilson homered for the Pirates.

After the game, Arroyo was optioned to Nashville, clearing the way for reliever Mike Lincoln to be activated from the disabled list today.

The Pirates had the dubious distinction of watching Brewers pitcher Rocky Coppinger (1-0) win his first game as a starter since May 4, 1997. An injury replacement for 15-game loser Jimmy Haynes, Coppinger made his first start in the majors since May 1, 1999, and gave up three runs in five innings.

The Pirates manufactured runs in the first and third innings and used Ramirez’s one-out homer in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead.

It was Ramirez’s 28th homer and moved him closer to joining Giles in the 30-homer club.

Only once in franchise history has two players hit 30 homers in the same season. That was 1991 when Barry Bonds hit 33 and Bobby Bonilla followed with 32.

The Brewers caught on to Beimel in the fourth when they sent 11 batters to the plate en route to a 6-3 lead.

‘Things were going along smoothly, and all of a sudden the wheels fell off,’ Beimel said. ‘I couldn’t get anybody out.’

Burnitz got things started with a check-swing single to short that turned the table on the Pirates’ generous shift. Sexson tied the score with a towering fly ball to right field that barely cleared the wall.

Beimel, perhaps unnerved by the homer, walked Lou Collier. Hernandez kept the momentum going by rocketing a book-rule double to left-center.

‘I felt like I had the same stuff (as in the first three innings),’ Beimel said. ‘But after the home run, I think I tried to be a little too perfect. It caught up to me.’

Beimel got an out when Mike Coolbaugh flied to right. With first base open and Coppinger on deck, McClendon ordered an intentional walk. Coppinger hit a slow chopper to third. Ramirez had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and had to settle for the out at first, as Collier crossed the plate for a 4-3 lead.

‘With the pitcher running in that situation, we thought we might have had a double play,’ McClendon said. ‘Those things happen. Unfortunately, the floodgates opened on us.’

A walk to James Mouton finished Beimel’s outing. Loretta greeted Arroyo with a two-run single to center.

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