Pirates Notebook: Offense keeps coming up short against bullpens

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LOS ANGELES -- The final 14 Pirates were set down in succession Monday, nine by Los Angeles Dodgers relievers. Tuesday, nine of the first 10 were dispatched by the Dodgers' bullpen, but then the deeper the game went and the deeper the Pirates ventured into that bullpen, they were able to muster three hits and a 13th-inning run.

Yesterday, the final 13 Pirates were retired in order, including the last nine by those same relief aces.

And so it goes for the Pirates recently: When the going gets late, they can't get much going.

In this three-game sweep by the Dodgers, the Pirates mustered one run and four hits in 11 innings against Los Angeles' bullpen. They were not much better the three-game series before in Houston: one run and six hits in 10 innings against the Astros' bullpen.

Worse, they struck out seven times in those 10 innings against Houston's relievers and 15 times in nine innings against Los Angeles'.

The Dodgers lead the majors in bullpen ERA by a half run and possess one of the most-decorated bullpens, but not middle-of-the-pack Houston.

"You get into games like this, and it comes down to, unfortunately, one pitch or one play, and we haven't been able to execute that," Pirates manager John Russell said. "Against very good teams, they take advantage of those things.

"The guys ... they played hard. Just didn't score enough runs to win."

It's a season-long refrain for a club that ranks fourth-to-last in the majors in run support.

"Our offense wasn't able to come through," said Andy LaRoche, who went 3 for 11 in Los Angeles with one run scored and nary an RBI while batting No. 2. "That has been the story the last couple of months for us, our offense hasn't been able to put up some run support for our pitchers."

The Pirates went 3 for 23 with runners in scoring position at Dodger Stadium and 3 for 20 in Houston.

Buried treasure

• Pirates Charities will hold a Roberto Clemente Day of Giving tomorrow at PNC Park before the club plays host to San Diego. Various charities will be on hand along Federal Street accepting gifts of cans and clothing. A "21" button will be given to those who make donations.

• During a pregame ceremony tomorrow, the 2009 Clemente Award will be awarded to pitcher Paul Maholm representing the team's player performing both on the field and in the community. The club is scheduled to give similar awards to prospects likewise serving the community at its minor league levels: Indianapolis' Larry Broadway; Altoona's Jason Delaney; West Virginia's Josue Peley; Lynchburg's Jared Keel; State College's Mike Williams; Bradenton's Bradley Clapp, and Gavi Nivar of their Dominican Summer League entrant.

• With Matt Kemp bashing a two-run homer in the sixth inning, Pirates pitchers have yielded at least one home run in the past 17 games.

• Pitt women's basketball coach Agnus Berenato, back from a goodwill tour of U.S. troops in the Middle East, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday against Cincinnati.


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