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Offense continues to fail as Pirates lose third straight

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates’ hitters continued to founder and the bullpen got lit up yet again in a 6-2 loss to the Phillies. The offensive futility wasted a good start by Steven Brault.

The pitching matchup seemed badly slanted in the Phillies’ favor, but Brault more than matched Aaron Nola. Despite getting squeezed by the home plate umpire, Brault got through the first five innings without allowing a run. It wasn’t elegant; he walked three, but allowed only one hit. The only real jam he had came when two runners reached with two out in the fourth.

Brault had a little margin to work with from the start, as Sean Rodriguez led off the game with his third home run. The Pirates’ offense, though, quickly went back to sleep and didn’t get another runner past first until the sixth. Rodriguez got an infield hit with one out, then after Gregory Polanco fanned, Starling Marte hit a routine popup into shallow center than second baseman Cesar Hernandez misjudged and let drop. Rodriguez ran all the way and just skipped past the tag at the plate to make it 2-0.

The lead didn’t last long. With one out, the Phillies got a runner on a hit batsman after replay review. A single chased Brault, who was up to 93 pitches. Michael Feliz came on to face Rhys Hoskins, who blasted a 1-2 pitch for a three-run HR and a Phillies’ lead.

The offense managed three meaningless singles over the last three innings, but never threatened. To add to the misery, Felipe Vázquez, who hasn’t had much to do lately, got knocked round for three runs in the bottom of the eighth, recording only one out. That left the final at 6-2. The Pirates have now scored two runs or fewer in six of their last eight games. They’ll have to win tomorrow to avoid a three-game sweep.