The Pirates lost 5-2 to the Braves Thursday because Ryan Vogelsong ... wait, he was pretty good, actually, making what had to be a pretty satisfying start after returning from a nasty facial injury. Instead, his teammates let him down as the Bucs fell apart late in the game.
Vogelsong making his first big-league start since May 23, pitched six innings, striking out six and walking one while allowing one run. He loaded the bases in the third and required a terrific catch by Starling Marte to end the inning, but otherwise did just fine against the Braves' lackluster lineup.
The Pirates' offense failed to take advantage despite Braves starter Tyrell Jenkins not being particularly sharp, however, and the two teams headed to the last three innings with the score tied at one.
The Bucs blew a chance to score in the seventh, getting a runner thrown out on the bases and getting rung up for a double play when struggling pinch-hitter John Jaso declined to run out what turned out to be a fair ball. Newcomer Felipe Rivero entered and allowed a walk and a single, later giving up a run when Jung Ho Kang failed to receive a throw to nab Adonis Garcia, who was trying to steal third. Jeff Francoeur followed with an RBI single.
David Freese answered with a solo homer in the eighth, but the Pirates slipped further downhill in the bottom of the inning against another new reliever, Antonio Bastardo. Erick Aybar reached on an error by Kang (Captain Obvious advises me to note here that Kang didn't have a very good game), and he later came home on a sacrifice fly. Matt Kemp, who had been intentionally walked, later moved up on a wild pitch and came home to score on Garcia's double.
The Pirates dropped their second straight series against bad teams, losing five of six against the Brewers and Braves. If they're going to contend this season -- which sounds like a joke at this point -- they need to get back on track, and quickly. They're literally now tied with the Colorado Rockies at three back in the Wild Card race.