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Pirates offense too little, too late in 2-1 loss to Braves

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates' offense was mostly dormant as the Bucs fell to Alex Wood and the Braves 2-1 Sunday.

Jeff Locke pitched five innings, allowed one run, and struck out five, but was merely okay -- he walked three batters and allowed five hits, so there were baserunners here, there and everywhere. The Braves finally got to him (well, a little) in the fifth. Cameron Maybin singled and moved up to second as Francisco Cervelli failed to catch Locke's changeup. Then Nick Markakis grounded a single to right to make it 1-0.

The Pirates had opportunities to score in the late innings, but bungled them. Jordy Mercer singled to lead off the bottom of the fifth, but then got caught stealing on a play that wasn't even close. After Vance Worley gave up a solo homer to Jace Peterson in the seventh, Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte singled to lead off the bottom of the inning. Cervelli then tried to bunt, even though he's great against lefties. He might have been hoping he wound up safe at first, and I can certainly see the merit in trying to move runners to second and third while down two runs, but it still wasn't a good play with the bottom of the order coming up. Sure enough, the Pirates didn't score.

Then in the eighth, Gorkys Hernandez led off and tried to bunt his way on, but the ball hit his hand (and he was also thrown out). Neil Walker then doubled and got stranded. You can't even fault Hernandez for the bunt, really -- he's made some progress as a hitter at Indianapolis this year, but he still isn't a good offensive player, and the bunt might have been his best shot. The Pirates need to find a dependable outfielder on the trade market next month, because their current options just aren't working.

Anyway, Wood left the game after 7.1 scoreless innings. He struck out eight and walked none. He isn't a bad pitcher, but he isn't that good, and it's disappointing that the Pirates couldn't find a way to come away with the sweep. The Pirates finally got a run off Jason Grilli in the ninth -- Cervelli walked (thanks in part to a missed call) and Mercer doubled as Maybin and Eury Perez collided. But it was too little, too late, as Gregory Polanco struck out and the Braves won 2-1.