Pittsburgh catcher Jason Kendall fractured and dislocated his right ankle in a frightening fall at first base and was sidelined for the season Sunday in the Pirates' 4-3 loss to Milwaukee.
Trainer Kent Biggerstaff said the Pirates' best hope was that Kendall would recover in time for spring training.
The All-Star catcher went into shock after the gruesome accident, which left a piece of bone sticking several inches out of his skin. Kendall went into surgery Sunday.
Dave Nilsson also homered and Steve Woodard pitched effectively over six innings on a 96-degree day to lead the Brewers to their second three-game sweep in Three Rivers Stadium this season.
Geoff Jenkins, who had entered the inning before in a double switch, hit a tiebreaking homer off Brad Clontz (0-2) leading off the Brewers ninth. The Pirates had tied it in the eighth on Ed Sprague's pinch-hit homer.
But losing one of the majors' top catchers almost made the loss an afterthought to the Pirates, who have surprisingly stayed in contention in the NL Central with one of the majors' lowest payrolls.
With the Brewers leading 3-0 and the Pirates hitless for 4 1-3 innings, Kendall tried to bunt his way on in the fifth. As third baseman Jeff Cirillo's throw beat him to first, Kendall stumbled as his right foot awkwardly struck the right side of the bag.
Kendall took five or six more strides before grabbing his right leg in pain and collapsing to the artificial turf. As he was carried off the field on a stretcher, Biggerstaff walked alongside, carefully supporting the ankle.
Pirates players, sensing the injury was serious, sat grim-faced on their bench and several could be seen burying their faces in their hands.
Kendall made the All-Star game as a rookie in 1996 and again last year and seemed a near lock to make it again this season. With 22 stolen bases, he was on a pace to break the major league single-season record for a catcher of 36 steals. He also has developed into one of the maors' best defensive catchers, throwing out 46 percent (26-of-57) of runners attempting to steal.
The Pirates rallied to tie it after Kendall left, scoring twice with two outs in the sixth against Woodard. Al Martin and Freddy Garcia doubled and, after Brian Giles walked, Kevin Young followed with an RBI single only his fourth hit in 24 at-bats.
After rookie reliever Jimmy Anderson pitched two scoreless innings in his major league debut, Sprague tied it against Mike Myers with his 15th homer and the Pirates' second pinch-hit homer in as many games.
Milwaukee opened its 3-0 lead on Mark Loretta's sacrifice fly in the third and Nilsson's 18th homer in the fourth both off Pete Schourek and second baseman Warren Morris' run-scoring throwing error in the fifth.
Schourek gave up two runs and three hits in four innings in his first start since May 26. Schourek started because Jose Silva suffered minor chest injuries in a traffic accident last week.
David Weathers (6-3) got the final two outs in the eighth for the victory before Bob Wickman finished up for his 16th save.
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