First: The Pirates lost, and the Cardinals and Reds are cruising to easy wins. (The Nationals already won, but let's try not to freak out about things that are highly unlikely to matter.) Second: The Pirates managed only one hit after the third inning tonight, and that was on a bunt.
The good news: That bunt belonged to Starling Marte, who went 1-for-3 in his return to the lineup. ("No complaints. He got after it," Clint Hurdle said.) The Pirates also picked off something like four Padres batters, although they only got credit for one of them. And ... that's about it.
Jeff Locke couldn't follow up on his excellent last start, allowing four runs in five innings while striking out five and walking three. Three of those runs came when Locke allowed two straight hits to start the third inning, then a three-run bomb by Jedd Gyorko.
"He had to grind it out tonight," said Hurdle. "The curveball wasn't as consistent as the last outing."
The Pirates got two back in the bottom of the inning as Locke led off with a single, Andrew McCutchen hit a ground-rule double, and Marlon Byrd brought them both home with a double to center. Gaby Sanchez then singled, but Ronny Cedeno threw Byrd out at home. (Cedeno also went 3-for-4 and made an amazing play to gun down Byrd in the eighth, probably prompting Pirates fans to wonder where all that was three years ago.)
The Padres tacked on another run in the fourth and then another in the seventh. With one out, Jedd Gyorko hit a ball to Justin Morneau, who threw to Bryan Morris for a close play, and Gyorko was called safe. Morris then picked off Gyorko, but didn't get the call on a close play. And then, remarkably, it happened again, with Morris appearing to pick off Gyorko and Bill Welke not making the call. Gyorko then scored as Morris allowed two singles before getting a double play to get out of it. I haven't been the biggest Morris fan this year, but that one is on Welke.
Anyway, it didn't matter much, since the Pirates couldn't get anything going against Tim Stauffer (the former first-round bust is having a pretty good season as a reliever -- who knew?), Nick Vincent, and Luke Gregerson. It was a frustrating game on both sides of the ball and on the scoreboard.
David Manel contributed to this post.