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Punchless Pirates drop one to Cubs, 4-1

Jonathan Daniel

On a day that Clint Hurdle described afterwards as an "organizational win" because four of the club's players were selected to the All-Star Game, the Pirates were unable to provide much offensive support for their starting pitcher, Charlie Morton, and dropped the second game of this series, 4-1.

The Pirates' lone run came on an opposite field home run by Pedro Alvarez in the top of the fourth. They had a few other opportunities to score but failed to get a timely hit. "We didn't create any offensive momentum," Hurdle said in his office after the game, "Every time we had a chance to extend an inning and move the chains, Jackson made a pitch and got out of it."

One of the best chances came in the third inning when Starting Marte hit a one out single, stole second, but then attempted to steal third and was caught. That chance was lost because of a missed sign: "he thought he saw a sign that would give him an opportunity to run on a certain pitch, it wasn't that pitch," Hurdle said.

Charlie Morton pitched okay - six innings pitched, four runs, six strikeouts. Clint Hurdle described it as a mixed bag: "He competed all day long. He had some very good sequences ... at the end of the day if he gets two pitches back, I don't know where we are." The two pitches the Pirates' manager was talking about were the two, two run, home runs by Alfonso Soriano that scored all of Cubs runs.

On a positive note, Jose Tabata continues to show few ill side effects from his injury, legging out an infield single in yesterday's game, stealing a base today and playing aggressively in the field. Hurdle said he was "absolutely pleased" with Tabata. "I think he's still working on getting some of those cobwebs out his head. ... I just know we got a very good player in there that we got to do everything we can to help him get out."

Tomorrow A.J. Burnett take the mound for the Pirates as they try to take the series.

INJURY UPDATE: Neil Walker left today's game in the bottom of the fifth with "right-side soreness." "I think it happened on his swing, his last at bat," Hurdle said. No word on his availability for tomorrow.