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Pirates blow 6-1 lead, lose again to Giants 7-6

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

It wasn't 15-4, but the Pirates continued to find fun new interesting ways to lose Wednesday night, blowing a 6-1 lead en route to a 7-6 loss to the Giants. The loss was the Pirates' twelfth in their past fourteen games, and dropped their June record to... you know what? I don't feel like looking it up. It's bad.

After the Bumgarner vs. Locke and Cueto vs. Wilfredo Boscan pitching matchups earlier this week, I checked today's Probable Pitchers half-expecting to see this:

Pirates Pitching Matchup

The Pirates' actual starting pitcher was Francisco Liriano, who, quite frankly, hasn't been that different from the above photoshopped image so far this season. The Pirates spotted Liriano six runs in the first three innings, but Liriano again failed to pitch deeply into the game, surrendering four runs on six hits and three walks in five innings. The bullpen and defense couldn't hold the lead from there, falling behind 7-6 in the 6th inning, and the offense failed to score again after the 3rd, sealing the 7-6 final.

John Jaso jolted the Pirates' offense to life with a leadoff home run on the first pitch of the game. Gregory Polanco then ripped a single to right after an 8-pitch at bat, and scored on a Matt Joyce single to make it 2-0.

The Pirates' offense continued piling on Jeff Samardzjia from there, slightly resembling the offensive machine from April and May. Chris Stewart walked, then Liriano scorched a single to right -- perhaps fired up by Pittsburgh's own Kurt Angle introducing him over the PA -- and Polanco launched a high uppercut homer into the right field seats to put the Pirates up 5-1. Kang then smashed a home run to center in the 3rd, his 10th of the season in just his 125th at-bat.

At this point, the Pirates were up 6-1, and everyone watching was clearly thinking to themselves "there's NO WAY this game's going to end this easily -- might as well just start warming up Melancon now." Turns out, that was only half-right: The Giants didn't even need all 9 innings to come back.

Brandon Crawford made it 6-2 with an RBI single in the 4th, but Liriano struck out Ramiro Pena looking with two runners on to minimize the threat. Then in the 5th, Denard Span reached on an infield single and advanced to second when Liriano walked Mac Williamson (aka, the royalty-free unlicensed knockoff of Matt Williams). Buster Posey then plopped a hit down the right field line that bounced into the seats for a ground rule double, scoring Span. Angel Pagan brought in another run on a sac fly to make it 6-4.

Jared Hughes replaced Liriano in the 6th after 89 pitches (57 for strikes), marking the 11th time in 14 starts Liriano has failed to pitch more than 6 innings. It was probably the correct move, but the Pirates -- as they've been doing so impressively lately -- instantly squandered the remaining lead with a combination of bad luck and bad defense.

Brandon Crawford hit a dribbler to third for an infield single, then Pena doubled him in to make it 6-5. Pinch hitter Jarrett Parker then hit a grounder that glanced off Hughes' glove and died before Sean Rodriguez could make a play on it, going down as another infield hit.

In the game's most critical play, Joe Panik then sliced a ball down the left field line and Polanco appeared to be well-positioned to make the catch, but he ran the ball down awkwardly and lunged diagonally upwards at it, and the ball hit off his wrist and caromed into the corner, allowing both runners to score. The play counted as a double but was an extremely plausible catch for Polanco. Hughes then retired Brandon Belt and Posey, but the Giants left the inning up 7-6.

After teeing off on Samardzjia with three homers (and seemingly another 3 obliterated foul ones), the Pirates offense mustered nothing against the Giants' bullpen, with just four batters reaching base over the last five innings. And for good measure, the game ended on a bizarre strike-em-out / throw-em-out with JOHN JASO caught stealing second with McCutchen on deck.

If you're looking for optimism, at least the offense came to life for a few innings. And I enjoyed when the ROOT broadcast showed a slo-mo replay of this kid reacting to Jaso's homer:


Coincidentally, that's the same shocked face I make whenever Liriano doesn't walk someone.