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To nobody’s surprise, Pirates lose again, 5-2

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

This is getting old in a hurry.

The most disturbing part isn’t even how badly the Pirates are playing, but how much this series reminds me of what happened when those awful John Russell teams went to the west coast. It seemed like, every year, they’d be shambling along, sort of looking sometimes like there might be hope for some progress, and then they’d go on their first west coast trip and the season would come crashing down.

I could have written the first inning script before it happened. Josh Harrison doubles, gets to third with one out, and is stranded when Andrew McCutchen whiffs and Gregory Polanco flies out. Chad Kuhl fans the first two in the bottom half, then suddenly walk, HR, single, walk, single, and it’s 3-0. Game over.

I could have written most of the rest in advance, too. Kuhl kinda recovers, giving up just one run over the next four innings. That comes on a double by a guy, Chase Utley, who was basically hitless until the Pirates came along. Wade LeBlanc throws two scoreless innings in a white flag role. Johnny Barbato gives up a run in the eighth.

Meanwhile, the guys holding wooden objects for no apparent reason flail pointlessly against a previously struggling pitcher. After their first-inning failure, the Pirates over the next seven manage just two, two-out singles, one by Harrison and one by Francisco Cervelli. Kenta Maeda, who’s never pitched more than seven innings in a major league game before, waltzes through eight innings, facing just three guys with wood objects over the minimum.

Maeda also had thrown more than 87 pitches only once in a start this year, and he ran out of gas in the ninth as the Pirates staged a fake rally. Harrison led off with a single and Cervelli lined his third HR of the year to left. But Harrison and Cervelli turned out to be the only guys who knew what to do with the wood objects. Maeda left after fanning McCutchen, whose latest slump is now a 5-for-41 (.122) slide. The Dodgers didn’t even bother bringing in closer Kenley Jansen, but instead went with Grant Dayton, a journeyman lefty who didn’t reach the majors until he was 28. He got Polanco on a line out and Josh Bell, who’s in his own 0-for-13 skid, on a fly out.

Pirates lose, getting swept in a series for the fourth time this year.