September 3, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke (49) and catcher Rod Barajas (26) make their way to the dugout to begin the game against the Houston Astros during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Well, that was ugly. The Astros scored one in the first on a bunch of ground ball singles and then a groundout, then another in the third on a walk, a single and a groundout. That wouldn't have been such a big deal, except that in the fifth, Jose Altuve singled, and then Tyler Greene hit a ground ball that Clint Barmes double-clutched. Then Jeff Locke hung a breaking ball for Brett Wallace, who hit it to right-center for a three-run shot.
Pedro Alvarez led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple, then came home on Barmes' single, but other than that, the Pirates didn't do much of anything against journeyman Edgar Gonzalez, who struck out five and walked one in 5.1 innings in one of those terrible-pitcher-shuts-down-the-Pirates specials straight out of 2010. Besides the aforementioned hits by Alvarez and Barmes, the only other Pirate to get a hit was Garrett Jones, who went 3-for-4.
Earlier in the season, the Pirates rarely seemed to have a problem winning games like this. Now, though, every winnable game feels like a question mark.