Pirates offense falters in 3-1 loss to Phillies

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Brandon Cumpton gave the Pirates all they could ask for through five innings of a spot start.

But in the sixth, Cumpton crumpled. So, too, did the Pirates' hopes of stretching their winning streak to double digits.

The Phillies scored three runs in the sixth en route to a 3-1 victory Tuesday night at PNC Park, snapping the Pirates' nine-game winning streak.

"We're not worried about winning streaks," right fielder Travis Snider said. "It's just about winning each day."

The Pirates (51-31) had their chances to crack back at the Phillies (40-44), but they stranded nine baserunners in their first loss since June 19. Two bases-loaded opportunities yielded inning-ending strikeouts.

The Pirates went 2 for 4 with runners in scoring position, but players were held at third base in both instances. They scored their only run by way of a Garrett Jones home run in the sixth.

"We had opportunities, but the offense just got started a little late," manager Clint Hurdle said. "A couple bases-loaded opportunities, we weren't able to cash in on. ... The chances we had, we weren't able to convert."

Pitching in place of Jeff Locke -- whose start was pushed back a day -- Cumpton allowed three earned runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. It was the longest of three career outings for Cumpton. And had it ended sooner, it would have been his most impressive.

"I felt like I got in a groove early on," Cumpton said. "The third time through the lineup was definitely a lot tougher, I fell behind a little bit and left some pitches up. They put them in play and made me pay."

Ryan Howard broke a scoreless tie with an RBI single in the sixth -- the third hit in a four-hit inning for Philadelphia. With runners on first and second, Howard drove a line drive into the left-center field gap, scoring Chase Utley from first to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Entering the inning, Cumpton had surrendered just two hits in the game.

"I think the fastball got up on him a little bit, and the slider lost some angle," Hurdle said.

The Phillies added to their lead later in the inning. Domonic Brown hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Jimmy Rollins from third. Delmon Young followed with a double into the left-center gap, scoring Howard from first and chasing Cumpton from the game.

Locke's start was delayed after the left-hander got warm in the bullpen late in the Pirates' 2-1, 14-inning win Sunday against Milwaukee.

Three of the Phillies' hits in the inning dropped into that left-center gap, where few hits fall with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte patrolling the area.

The Phillies' runs snapped a streak of 22 consecutive innings in which Pirates starters did not allow an earned run, stretching to Gerrit Cole's outing Friday.

The Pirates had their best chance to tie the score -- or climb ahead -- in the eighth when Jordy Mercer came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. But Mercer struck out chasing a slider to end the inning.

They threatened in the seventh, too, with four hard-hit balls off Philadelphia reliever Phillippe Aumont. But two of those balls were snagged for outs and another turned into an out when Mercer tried to stretch a leadoff single into a double. Brown's throw from left field to second base easily beat Mercer to the bag.

"You never want to be out in that situation," Hurdle said. "But you've got a left fielder that's left-handed, running away from second base. He's got to spin throw and make a throw to the base. That's the way we play, and we'll live with it."

Phillies starter Jonathan Pettibone allowed one earned run -- Jones' homer -- on three hits in 52/3 innings. In two starts against the Pirates this season, the rookie has allowed three earned runs on nine hits in 11 innings.

Utley saved a run from scoring in the third with a diving stop on a McCutchen ground ball. With the speedy Marte on second, McCutchen smoked a ball that seemed destined to reach center field. But Utley snagged it to hold Marte at third and load the bases with two outs. Jones struck out to end the inning and the game remained scoreless.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published July 3, 2013 2:15 AM


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