Pirates not quite at their best in 3-2 loss

USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates' offense came up short in a 3-2 loss to the Phillies on a cool evening in Philadelphia Monday night.

To be fair to the offense, not much really seemed to be working right for the Bucs, even though they managed to stay in the game. A.J. Burnett struck out seven batters, but only lasted five innings, with three walks and a hit batsman. After the Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the second on a line-drive homer that Pedro Alvarez just barely knocked over the right-field wall, the Phillies tied the game in the third on a rally that began when Burnett walked pitcher Jonathan Pettibone, who later came home on Burnett's wild pitch. They took the lead the following inning when Burnett loaded the bases and then hit Jimmy Rollins.

Russell Martin led off the fifth with a leadoff homer to tie the game, though, and that's where the Bucs were when Jared Hughes entered the game in the sixth. I get that it was only the sixth, but it's becoming tiresome to continue to see Hughes in very high-leverage situations like these. I've advocated for him in the past, but he hasn't pitched well this year, and the outs he does get feel like gifts -- it seems like opposing batters should be swinging at fewer of his pitches than they do.

Anyway, Hughes did get two groundball outs to start the inning, but then gave up a walk and two singles, and the Phillies took a 3-2 lead.

And ... not much happened after that. Vin Mazzaro entered in the seventh and pitched two scoreless frames, one of which featured Alvarez turning a double play from second base on a big shift against Ryan Howard. But, other than a Garrett Jones double in the ninth, the Pirates couldn't get anything going. Bringing in John McDonald in a double switch allowed the Bucs to keep Mazzaro out there another inning, but it didn't help offensively, which demonstrates one problem with having John McDonald on your bench.

In any case, the Pirates did get two homers, but not much else. Pettibone, making his first career start, was unimpressive, tossing 90 MPH junk vaguely in the direction of the strike zone, like a hack writer thoughtlessly dribbling verbiage onto the page. (Knotted! Sparkling! Southpaw!) The Pirates couldn't do much with it, and some days, there's nothing to do but to let it go.

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