It didn't matter that the Pirates couldn't solve Chicago Cubs starter Travis Wood Friday night because they couldn't solve their own issues on defense.
The Pirates committed seven errors in a 12-2 loss to the Cubs at PNC Park and fell to 72-65. As they battle the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers for the second wild-card playoff spot in the National League, the Pirates are 13-21 since Aug. 1 and have lost 11 of their past 16 games.
"Our worst game of the season," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We stunk."
Starling Marte and Brock Holt each committed two errors and Rod Barajas, Gaby Sanchez and Josh Harrison had one apiece. The Pirates previously committed seven errors in a game Sept. 16, 1985, according to STATS LLC.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Pirates became the first team to commit seven errors in a game since 2004, when the Atlanta Braves did it.
"From the defensive side ... it was contagious as well," Hurdle said.
The Pirates managed only one hit off Wood, who pitched six scoreless innings and struck out five. Wood had not earned a win since July 6, enduring eight consecutive losses in games in which he earned a decision.
Four of the seven runs A.J. Burnett allowed were unearned. He pitched five-plus innings and allowed eight hits, walking one and striking out four.
The Cubs took advantage of an error on Holt to score first. Burnett walked Luis Valbuena with one out before Anthony Rizzo grounded to second. Holt booted the ball and both runners were safe. Alfonso Soriano then singled up the middle to score Valbuena.
Two more errors contributed to three Cubs runs in the third. Rizzo singled with two outs and Soriano followed with a single to left. Marte fielded the ball and airmailed it into no-man's land in foul territory along the third-base line, allowing the runners to reach second and third.
Starlin Castro singled to left, scoring both runners, but Marte bobbled the ball, allowing Castro to reach second. Steve Clevenger's single scored Castro.
The most egregious offenses occurred in the sixth. After Brett Jackson singled and went to second on a wild pitch, Darwin Barney grounded to shortstop. Harrison threw to Pedro Alvarez at third in an attempt to get the lead runner, but third-base umpire and crew chief Gary Darling ruled Jackson safe on a close play.
Hurdle came out for an extended argument before Darling finally ejected him.
"We saw it differently," Hurdle said. "It was one I wasn't willing to walk away from."
Wood bunted right in front of home plate, and Barajas tried to throw Barney out at second, but his throw was wide, loading the bases with no outs. David DeJesus grounded to first and Gaby Sanchez threw home, but his throw pulled Barajas off the plate, and everyone was safe.
Justin Wilson replaced Burnett and allowed the first true hard-hit ball, a double to the gap by Valbuena that scored two more runs.
Two more errors -- and two walks from Hisanori Takahashi, who allowed three runs on two hits in one-third of an inning -- opened the door for five Cubs runs in the seventh.
"There's nobody in there that isn't embarrassed to some degree," Hurdle said. "Don't miss out on that."
Wood held the Pirates hitless through the first four innings. Sanchez walked in the second, but a double play erased him. Soriano made a leaping catch at the warning track on an Andrew McCutchen fly ball to end the fourth.
Alvarez got the Pirates' first hit of the game with two outs in the fifth, when he doubled off the wall in center field.
Jackson left the game after the sixth because of a bruised right knee. He ran down another McCutchen fly ball, but collided with the fencing in front of the bullpen in center field and collapsed to the warning track.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published September 8, 2012 4:00 AM