Through nine batters, Erik Bedard breezed through the Giants lineup. Over the next nine batters, the Giants buried him.
What started as a strong outing for Bedard fell apart in the fourth inning as the Giants beat the Pirates, 6-5, tonight at PNC Park.
He surrendered five runs, four earned, on four hits in 3 2/3 innings, adding to a stretch of troubling outings for the Pirates' lone left-handed starter. All of the Giants runs and hits against Bedard came in the fourth inning as they climbed back from an early 3-0 deficit.
Bedard has not pitched past the fifth inning in nine of his 17 starts this season, and his ERA in June and July is now 7.39.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Pirates (46-37) and a three-game losing streak for the Giants (46-38).
Pedro Alvarez belted a 457-foot home run off Giants reliever Javier Lopez to pull the Pirates within one run in the eighth inning. It was Alvarez's 16th home run of the season, tying Andrew McCutchen for the team lead.
Barry Zito earned the win for the Giants, his seventh of the season, allowing four earned runs on seven hits in five innings.
Pirates reliever Chris Resop struck out three batters over 2 1/3 scoreless innings to keep the game close after Bedard the Giants jumped ahead. In his past seven outings, Resop has surrendered two earned runs over 12 1/3 innings.
The Giants added an insurance run in the seventh inning when Juan Cruz surrendered a leadoff double to Joaquin Arias, who scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Theriot to make it 6-4.
Casey McGehee hit a solo home run off of Zito in the fifth inning to help the Pirates pull within one run.
After cruising through the Giants order over the first three innings, facing nine batters without allowing a hit, Bedard faced nine batters in the fourth inning alone as the Giants surged ahead.
Bedard issued a leadoff walk to Justin Christian, who scored when Ryan Theriot doubled to right-centerfield. Theriot and Christian got a bit of help on the play when McCutchen overran the ball, buying them extra time on the basepaths.
Two pitches later, Melky Cabrera tied the score, 3-3, with a home run to left field. Cabrera chased a curveball that catcher Rod Barajas went to block, low and in the dirt, crushing it about 10 rows deep.
Bedard allowed the next two batters to reach base, and both scored -- Buster Posey on a single by catcher Hector Sanchez and Pablo Sandoval on an error by Josh Harrison when a ground ball from Joaquin Arias ricocheted off the bottom of his glove.
Bedard's meltdown stole all the momentum from a Pirate offense that was pounding Zito early in the game.
The Pirates scored a pair of runs in the third inning to extend an early lead. Josh Harrison led off the inning with a walk and scored when McCutchen tripled into the notch in left-centerfield. It was McCutchen's fifth triple of the season, tying his total from both 2011 and 2010. He hit a career high nine triples in 108 games in 2009.
Neil Walker drove in McCutchen with a double to left field that, had it been eight inches higher, would have been a two-run home run. The RBI double gave the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
The Pirates hit three consecutive singles to start the bottom of the first and grab a 1-0 lead. Harrison, Drew Sutton and McCutchen all singled to left field, the last of which scored Harrison from second. Casey McGehee grounded into a double play, and after Walker walked, Pedro Alvarez struck out to end the inning.
Michael Sanserino: email@example.com, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino. First Published July 7, 2012 2:15 AM