Minutes after the Pirates' 11-0 loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday night, manager Clint Hurdle acknowledged the team's recent struggles.
"This is probably our worst patch of play during the season," he said, adding that the tough week didn't surprise him.
"Anybody that thought this is going to be easy for us to move through the history that we got here, which a lot of us aren't even tied to, and the season that we're having -- you think it's going to be easy?" he said. "No, it's not. It's going to be hard. Right now, we've got a lot of hard going on."
The 'hard' manifested itself in defensive miscues that turned outs into base-runners and into a five-run ninth as the Pirates lost their fifth game in the past six.
"Things aren't always going to go your way," said Kevin Correia, who took the loss Tuesday night. "You're going to have situations where the ball hasn't really bounced our way the past week or so. We've kind of compounded that with some bad playing all around."
The loss came after a 55-minute rain delay and continued a tough stretch against the NL West. The Pirates have lost six of the past nine games to Arizona, San Diego and Los Angeles.
The Pirates allowed their opponent to score first for the eighth game in a row and struggled at the plate against starter Chad Billingsley. They got three hits in the first three innings, then went without a hit for three until Neil Walker singled to lead off the seventh. They were shut out for the 10th time this season.
Billingsley (9-9) pitched eight scoreless innings and allowed five hits. He entered the game with a 4-0 record and 2.03 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break.
"He's been effective, he's been on a roll," Hurdle said. "The opportunities we had, we weren't able to capitalize on."
The Pirates' inability to hang onto the ball helped the Dodgers in the fourth. Pedro Alvarez had Matt Kemp's line drive in his glove, but the ball bounced free, and Kemp was safe. Andre Ethier grounded to Walker, who moved to tag Kemp on his way to second, but the ball bounced loose when Kemp collided with Walker. Hurdle argued the call, but both runners were ruled safe, and Walker was given an error.
"We had a play to make to get an out and we weren't able to make it," Hurdle said.
Hanley Ramirez's slow dribbler down the third-base line stayed fair, loading the bases with no outs. James Loney grounded out to score a run before Luis Cruz delivered a two-run single that gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.
The Dodgers scored first in the third inning. Cruz singled and A.J. Ellis walked. Billingsley sacrificed them to second and third, and Shane Victorino's groundout scored Cruz.
The Dodgers padded the lead in the sixth with three singles in a row. The final one came from Cruz, his third hit of the night, and scored Ramirez. Ellis' sacrifice fly to center scored Loney for a 6-0 lead.
Correia (9-7), who rejoined the rotation while the Pirates are in a 20-games-in-20-days stretch, allowed six runs, five earned, in six innings. His streak of seven consecutive wins in games in which he got a decision ended.
"I think I made a lot of good pitches and, obviously, things didn't really go my way for a few innings," Correia said. "I had chances after that to make a good pitch and get out of the inning and I missed a couple."
Jeff Locke replaced Correia and pitched two scoreless innings. Chad Qualls allowed five runs on four hits in the ninth.
The Pirates had scoring chances in the second and third, but could not convert them into runs. Travis Snider, who doubled in the third, left the game in the eighth. Hurdle said Snider's right hamstring tightened again on the double.
Tonight, the Pirates face Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who pitched seven innings of one-run ball against them at Dodger Stadium in April. The hard keeps on coming.
"What does the guy say in 'The Godfather?' 'This is the life we've chosen?' This is the life we've chosen," Hurdle said, channeling his inner Hyman Roth. "It's hard right now. Figure it out. We've got to play better."