As highlights go for the Pirates, that was about it.
Paul Maholm endured his shortest start of the year and Pittsburgh pitching allowed 15 hits while the offense amassed just six of its own in an emphatic 10-0 loss at Miller Park. It was the most lopsided defeat the Bucs faced since May 13, 2002, when Arizona dished out an 11-0 outcome.
"We rebound tomorrow," manager Jim Tracy said. "We've got two more to play here and it's very easy to put this one behind you. There's not a whole lot to think about."
Maholm was gone after 3 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with three walks. All of those free passes came in the fourth, including one to Fielder with the bases loaded and two outs to make it 3-0. Home plate umpire Chuck Meriweather appeared agitated with the Pirates left-hander's reaction as Tracy came to the mound and called for reliever Marty McLeary.
"In my opinion it was a strike, but apparently it wasn't," Maholm said. "It could have gone either way. I thought I had good stuff but walking three guys in an inning is going to kill you. I felt good. I don't know; we'll just have to figure it out."
It was the shortest outing of Maholm's season, rewriting the previous low set last time out when he survived four frames against Cincinnati on April 29.
Fielder's three-run home run against McLeary in the sixth was the definitive blow, and J.J. Hardy finished with four hits, including a home run against Maholm (1-4) to give Milwaukee a 2-0 edge in the third.
"Paul had a tough time tonight," Tracy said. "He had difficulty when he got to two strikes. He had difficulty making a two-strike pitch. The other thing that obviously caused him a lot of problems was the fact that there were a number of other hitters where he was pitching behind in the count and he gave them too many free swings at it. And that won't work."
Pittsburgh churned out just four hits in six innings against Claudio Vargas (3-0), who is now 2-0 with one run allowed in 12 innings against the Pirates this season. The Bucs had at least one baserunner in five of the starter's six frames but finished the game having gone 17 of 18 innings in the series without a run.
"I thought our approach was better this time around," Tracy said of the start against Vargas, noting that the Brewers right-hander set a career-high with 11 strikeouts in a meeting against Pittsburgh on April 18.
"We've seen him twice now this year and it goes without saying, the end result says he's done a very effective job against us in the two starts he's had," the skipper added.
Pittsburgh's best opportunity to make noise came in the fourth, when Vargas struck out Xavier Nady and Bautista in back-to-back at-bats after the Pirates put runners at the corners with one out.
"In order to potentially change the complexion of the game, we needed something to happen for us in the fourth inning," Tracy said. "Then they tacked on another run and a couple of pretty nice offensive innings for themselves toward the latter part of the game."
Fielder's booming shot to right-center gave Milwaukee a 7-0 lead, and after Hardy's two-run single capped a three-run rally in the seventh, the Brewers' advantage reached double digits. Five Brewers finished with multi-hit evenings.
"We have a good offensive team," said Milwaukee catcher Johnny Estrada, who finished with two hits, including a solo home run in the fourth, and two RBIs. "Everybody witnessed that in Spring Training. We started the season off a little slow and everybody hadn't hit full stride yet, but when we're all hitting the ball, God bless the pitcher who's out there."
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.