The Pirates went hitless for five innings against Adam Conley, Tony Watson gave up his first hit in five outings and his first run in over a month, and they took a 3-2 loss in Miami on Wednesday night.
Playing shorthanded, the Bucs could not touch the lefty Conley for most of his six innings, striking out nine times. With two outs in the sixth, Andrew McCutchen cracked a clean single to center field, followed by a David Freese double to right, but a Starling Marte groundout ended the threat.
Jon Niese danced through the raindrops early on, getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the second with a forceout at home plate and two strikeouts.
Niese wasn't as lucky in the fifth, when J.T. Realmuto doubled and scored when John Jaso tried to get him at the plate on a fielder's choice. Niese walked Marcell Ozuna to load the bases for the returning Giancarlo Stanton and got a little more luck, getting a generous called third strike on the big man. Facing Chris Johnson, Niese uncorked a wild pitch, though, allowing Martin Prado to score from third.
Conley needed 105 pitches to get through six innings, and the Pirates tied it, 2-2, in the seventh after his exit. Walks by Francisco Cervelli and Jaso and a Josh Harrison single loaded the bases against Kyle Barraclough. Lefty Mike Dunn came in to face pinch-hitter Matt Joyce, who smacked a grounder through the right side of the infield to score two.
David Phelps came in and kept it tied, getting Jordy Mercer to ground into a double play.
In the eighth, Watson got two quick outs and had an 0-2 count on Derek Dietrich before hitting him with a pitch, and Adeiny Hechavarria doubled to left-center, scoring pinch-runner Miguel Rojas from first.
Cervelli walked three times, including one to open the ninth inning, but the rest of the inning was rather uneventful, with
Sean Rodriguez Sean Rodriguez swinging at A.J. Ramos' offerings at his ankles.
The best the Pirates can do now is split the series in Miami, with Juan Nicasio facing Wei-Yin Chen in the final game Thursday.