The troubles at the plate continued Tuesday night, and the Pirates' losing streak did, too.
Mustering only three hits, the Pirates dropped their fourth consecutive game, a 2-1 loss against the Oakland A's.
The Pirates have scored six runs during that losing streak and only one run in three of the four. They have lost six of their past eight games and three consecutive series.
When Oakland starter Dan Straily wasn't striking out Pirates, he was keeping their balls on the ground. Straily (6-2) finished 61/3 innings and allowed one run -- a solo home run to Pedro Alvarez -- on two hits, walking three and striking out seven.
Straily followed a terrific outing in his previous start, when he pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed only one hit against the Chicago Cubs.
Gerrit Cole finished seven innings for the first time in his six-start major league career, but one pitch made the difference. Cole allowed two runs, both of them scoring on a home run to Brandon Moss, and five hits. He struck out four and walked two.
Cole has not allowed more than three runs in any of his six starts.
The A's loaded the bases in the first inning. Coco Crisp hit a two-strike single to left field, and Cole walked Josh Reddick on four pitches. Josh Donaldson struck out and Jed Lowrie popped out to short. Yoenis Cespedes dribbled a grounder to the right side of the infield and barely beat Jordy Mercer's flip to Garrett Jones at the bag, loading the bases.
Cole then struck out John Jaso swinging, pumping his arms as he left the mound.
The A's took the lead with two outs in the fourth. The Pirates shifted to the right against lefty Jaso. In the eighth pitch of Jaso's at-bat, he poked a ball down the third-base line for a double. The next batter, Moss, homered over the Clemente Wall on the first pitch to put the A's ahead, 2-1.
Cole had retired nine consecutive batters between the first and the fourth inning before Jaso's double.
Cole's control wavered in the fifth. He walked Straily on four pitches and ran a 3-0 count to Reddick, but a double play helped him get out of the inning.
Cole threw four pitches in the sixth inning. Clint Barmes started a double play with a tough backhand grab and throw that erased a Lowrie single.
Pedro Alvarez gave the Pirates their only run in the second. He hit a 0-1 changeup into the bushes in center field for his 23rd home run of the season.
The Pirates couldn't get much done after that. Starling Marte singled in the third and stole second despite a pitchout, but was stranded. Andrew McCutchen and Barmes each drew a walk, but didn't advance past first.
Alvarez walked to start the seventh and Russell Martin bunted him to second. Lefty Sean Doolittle replaced Straily when Jones came to bat, causing manager Clint Hurdle to send Gaby Sanchez up in Jones' spot. Sanchez struck out looking at a curveball.
Francisco Liriano will start for the Pirates today as they try to avoid a sweep.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published July 10, 2013 1:45 AM