Lack of offense leads to Pirates' 2-1 loss to Padres


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SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates' offense created exactly one shot at Ian Kennedy, one red-zone opportunity. After they were stonewalled and never forced their way into Kennedy's territory again.

A lack of offense, punctuated by a four-inning hitless streak, caused a 2-1 Pirates loss to the San Diego Padres Wednesday at Petco Park.

None of their four hits went for extra bases. The Pirates put a man on third in the first, but couldn't move one to second until after Kennedy left the game. They went hitless from the second to the fifth before a single in the sixth ended the streak.

"We're up there trying to do what we can do," manager Clint Hurdle said.

"We know what he's going to throw, he showed how he was going to go at us. We weren't able to barrel anything up. We missed some fastballs that were there. The other stuff was just tough to hit."

Kennedy (5-9) fell into trouble in the first but escaped. He finished seven scoreless innings and tied his season high with eight strikeouts.

Kennedy didn't finish the fifth in his previous start, when he allowed five runs and three walks. He entered this game with a 5.12 ERA. He walked three batters Wednesday, too, but none did damage.

"Today his changeup was filthy," Hurdle said. "Then his fastball command came around, maybe after the second inning. He was able to just dot up the ball down and away to some left-handers."

Andrew McCutchen went 2 for 2 with a walk.

The other Pirates combined to go 2 for 27 with three walks and 11 strikeouts. Garrett Jones went 0 for 4 to extend his streak of hitless at-bats to 19 and drop his average to .239.

The Pirates sent six men to the plate in the first, when they got two hits and two walks, but left the bases loaded without scoring.

After McCutchen's first-inning single, the Pirates did not get another hit until McCutchen singled again with one out in the sixth.

Between the second and fifth innings, only one Pirates reached base, and that was McCutchen, who walked.

"[Kennedy] had command of four pitches from basically the second through the seventh inning," Hurdle said.

Gerrit Cole (6-6) allowed two runs in six innings, striking out five without walking a batter.

The 10 hits allowed, a season high for the right-hander, became the problem. The Padres made solid contact with too many fastballs over the plate. He allowed multiple hits in the second, fifth and sixth innings.

"I tried to get inside, sometimes for effect, sometimes for a strike, and the ball crept over a couple times to the lefties," Cole said.

"It allowed them to get their hands through."

Cole, a UCLA product, lost the battle against Kennedy, a former USC pitcher and fellow first-round pick.

Will Venable hit a leadoff double in the third. A weak groundball sent him to third. Yonder Alonso flied to shallow left, and Venable tagged. Felix Pie's throw was strong and accurate, but Russell Martin could not apply the tag, and the Padres took a 1-0 lead.

A couple of two-out hits extended the Padres' lead in the fifth.

After a double play, Chris Denorfia singled and stole second. He scored on Alonso's single to left, putting the Padres ahead, 2-0.

"I let Yonder get his hands through on that 3-2 fastball," Cole said.

"With a runner in scoring position, the one guy in the lineup hitting .300 [Alonso is hitting .289] -- that kind of gets at me a little bit."

McCutchen halved the lead in the eighth. Luke Gregerson walked Pie, who reached second on a groundout. He took third on a passed ball and scored on McCutchen's sacrifice fly.

The Pirates took two of three from the Padres, who entered the day in last place in the NL West.

The Pirates move on to San Francisco and will start a four-game series against the Giants there tonight. The Giants also are near the bottom of the division.

"I just felt like I let a pretty good opportunity slip away," Cole said.

"We had an opportunity to come in here and sweep and set the tone for the San Francisco series.

"I was just disappointed that I wasn't able to better help the team."

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Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published August 22, 2013 1:30 AM


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