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Pirates' offense absent in 4-0 loss to Cubs

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates managed just four hits (all singles) as Jason Hammel and Pedro Strop shut them out in a fast-moving game Monday, 4-0. Worse, the Bucs continued what's been a season-long pattern so far by striking out eight times without walking.

The Cubs scored all four of their runs against Vance Worley, with three of those coming in the third. Dexter Fowler walked with two outs, then went around to third on Jorge Soler's single. Then Anthony Rizzo lined a slider into the left-center gap to score one run, and Kris Bryant hit a fastball to the other gap to score two more.

For whatever it's worth, Addison Russell got his first-ever hit at Wrigley in the fifth, a garden-variety infield single. Fowler then singled and was erased on Jorge Soler's double play, but Rizzo hit a ground ball through the shift to bring home Russell and make it 4-0.

There will be games like this, particularly in cold April temperatures, and it's hard to complain too much about a team coming off an 8-0 win that capped a five-game winning streak. But more consistent offense would be nice. Vance Worley was ... fine today, I guess, and the victim of some weak Cubs hits. But it would have taken a brilliant pitching performance to keep the Pirates in this one.

Three weeks into the season, the Bucs are still waiting on sustained contributions from Andrew McCutchen (who's battled knee issues) and Josh Harrison, and most of their power has come from two players (Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte) with OBPs below .300. And, of course, they don't have Russell Martin anymore. In fact, the only regulars off to unambiguously good starts are Gregory Polanco (who actually leads Bucs position players in fWAR, with 0.9 but was scratched today due to groin tightness) and Neil Walker. The Pirates' pitching staff has sustained them while they wait for their bats to come to life.