Several Missed Opportunities Hurt Bucs in Third Straight Loss

The Pittsburgh Pirates had several opportunities to plate runs off the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday in Los Angeles, but fell short. Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle shuffled the lineup on in order of getting the bats going. The club entered game action with a .189 team average — which ranked 28th in the Major Leagues.

Several new faces were inserted into the lineup — bench players in Josh Harrison and Yamaico Navarro, who made their first starts of the 2012 season. Casey McGehee also got the start at first to fill the lineup with mostly right-handers. The only lefty bat in the lineup belonged to Pedro Alvarez, who hurdle put in the lineup for the first time this season with a left-handed starter on the mound.

The first missed chance came in the first inning. After lefty Chris Capuano struck out both Jose Tabata and Harrison looking, Andrew McCutchen hit an infield single to third base in the bottom of the frame. Infielder Casey McGehee followed with a single into left field, but they were both left stranded after Navarro popped out to short.

Andrew McCutchen led off the 3rd frame with a double –his second extra base hit of the season. McCutchen tagged up and advanced to third base on the fly out to right by Navarro, but once again was left stranded at third base.

With one out in the 5th, the Pirates were finally able to score a run off Capuano. Michael McKenry crushed a 2-1 sinker for a solo-homer to dead center field. It marked his first long ball of the season.

For the second straight inning, the Pirates were able to get a run home in the sixth. McCutchen led off the inning with a base knock — his third hit of the game. Casey McGehee followed by ripping a single into right to put runners on the corners. After going a combined 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, Navarro hit a sac fly to left to bring the game within one run.

Down just one run, the club’s final missed chance came in the sixth. Reliever Mike MacDougal replaced Capuano, and immediately gave up a single into shallow right field. Michael McKenry drew a walk to load the bases. Rookie Matt Hague was called upon in the pinch-hit situation, but smoked a ball right into the Matt Kemp’s glove in center field to leave the bases loaded.

Right-hander Jeff Karstens allowed three runs on seven hits over five innings. He walked one and struck out three while throwing 71 pitches, 49 strikes in his second start of the 2012 season.

Karstens got off to a rough start, allowing all three runs to score in the first. With one out, Karstens gave up back-to-back hits, which included a Matt Kemp double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. On Karstens’ next pitch, Andre Ethier got drilled on the back to load the bases. Juan Rivera hit a sac fly to left to plate the first run of the inning. The right-hander gave up back-to-back RBI singles to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.

But after that, Karstens settled down. He needed just 10 pitches to retire the side in the 2nd inning, with one strikeout. Karstens retired nine straight batters after the three runs before giving up a single in the fourth.

With the 3-2 loss, the Pirates were swept by the Dodgers and lost their first series of the 2012 season. They fell to a 2-4 record.

Game Notes:

  • Relief — Chris Resop: 2IP, H; Jason Grilli: IP, K
  • The Pirates are leading the Majors with a 2.05 team ERA entering Thursdays’ game action.
  • Andrew McCutchen picked up three hits on the night –two singles and a double.
  • Michael McKenry’s walk in the 6th inning was the first free pass drawn by a Pirate during the three-game series. The Bucs have drawn just six walks this season — which is a Major League low.

Friday Game Info:

  • The Bucs depart for San Francisco after the game tonight and will kick off a three game series Friday afternoon. The Pirates went 2-1 at AT & T Park last season, posting a 2.42 ERA over the three games.
  • Right-hander James McDonald (0-0, 3.00 ERA) will face righty Matt Cain (0-0, 7.50 ERA).

  • I guess this shoots down the theory that we can’t score runs because we’re only facing Cy Young holders.

  • how many caught looking K’s were there?  it’s Chris Capuano, give me a break!

  • With all the Saber-savvy hires in the front office, its astoudning that no one can take a walk on this team.

    I realize its a combination of alot of slow starts from fairly known quantities, but its still hard to take.

  • We suck worse than I thought….pathetic.  

  • I’m glad that I can’t stay up to watch these games. Yuck

  • Cutch is the only Buc with three safeties in one game in 2012. This was the second time he has done it. 

    Loney’s hit was his first of the year. He is off to a 1-20 start.