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Pirates’ winning streak ends in 7-3 loss to Rockies

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Chad Kuhl had a decent-ish Coors Field start, but the Pirates could do little with German Marquez and the Rockies’ bullpen. The resulting 7-3 loss brought the Bucs’ six-game winning streak to an end.

Kuhl wasn’t exceptionally sharp and tended to run into trouble when he threw a first-pitch ball. He got through the first two innings, but gave up three runs in the third in a rally that started with a one-out single by his mound opponent. Two doubles and a single ultimately followed, all after Kuhl fell behind 1-0. In the fourth, Kuhl started off allowing a double and a single, both coming after Kuhl initially fell behind, to put the Rockies up, 4-2.

The Pirates found Marquez a much tougher obstacle than Jeff Hoffman was yesterday. They did get a quick lead in the first when Andrew McCutchen doubled in Josh Harrison, who had walked. After the Rockies went up, 3-1, Josh Bell cut the deficit to a run by drilling a fastball to right that found the seats in a hurry for his 18th HR. Other than that, Marquez dominated the Pirates, getting lots of swings and misses by changing speeds constantly. He whiffed nine through six innings while allowing just three hits total.

Kuhl was saved in the fifth by a nice relay from McCutchen to Harrison that just managed to cut down the ponderously chugging Nolan Arenado at home. The bottom of the sixth started with a fake altercation after Carlos Gonzalez grittily took exception, in a safe sort of way, to not being hit by a pitch after Marquez had suspiciously (to put it mildly) hit McCutchen in the top of the inning. (The Rockies having hit five batters to the Pirates’ none in the series, their whining is understandable, or something.) Kuhl ended up going six, allowing nine hits.

The bullpen couldn’t keep the game close. A.J. Schugel nearly got away with allowing a leadoff triple in the seventh, but a two-out single plated the run. The Pirates got their first two hitters on in the eighth, but Harrison hit into a double play on a nice play by Arenado and, after a walk to McCutchen, Josh Bell flied out. Steve Brault’s first major league outing of the season didn’t go well, as he walked the first batter he faced and ultimately gave up two runs.

Schugel’s and Brault’s problems almost became costly when the Pirates loaded the bases with one out in the ninth. Jose Osuna struck out on a slider in the dirt, but Starling Marte got his third hit of the game, an infield single that made it 7-3 and brought Josh Harrison up as the tying run. Harrison, though, flied out to end it.

The loss dropped the Pirates back to an even .500. With the Cubs and Brewers both winning, they’re three games out of first and two out of second. Tomorrow they’ll have a chance to win their fourth straight series against a contending team, and fifth straight overall, behind the recently struggling Ivan Nova.