Lopsided win only counts as one

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Random thoughts on the Pirates' 12-8 loss to St. Louis last night, which left them with a one-half game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central:

• No one should try to make too much out of this loss in which the Pirates once trailed by 11. It was only one game. No message was sent, just as none was sent five weeks ago when the Pirates took four of five from the Cardinals. There is no momentum in baseball.

• That said, it would be preferable to see someone other than struggling Jeff Locke pitching for the Pirates tonight.

• When Pedro Alvarez grounded out with the bases loaded and two out in the first inning, the anti-Pedro crowd no doubt was out in full force.

• When Neil Walker struck out with two out and runners on second and third in the second inning -- and this is just an educated guess -- the level of fan anger probably was considerably less.

• For the record, Alvarez was batting .235 with runners in scoring position, which was five points higher than his season average. Walker was batting .215 with runners in scoring position, which was 47 points lower than his season average.

• The Pirates are 14th in the National League in batting average (.228) and OPS (.657). Any discussion of the team's offensive shortcomings has to begin with those numbers.

• In six starts since August 10, A.J. Burnett, who gave up five runs in three innings last night, has a 5.50 ERA.

• The recent inconsistencies of Burnett and particularly Francisco Liriano raise serious red flags concerning the Pirates postseason hopes.

• Russell Martin taking a called third strike with two on and two out in the fifth only added to the Pirates RISP woes.

• Wandy Rodriguez allowed three hits and two runs, one earned, and was the losing pitcher as Indianapolis was eliminated from the International League playoffs by Durham, 2-1. Rodriguez walked none and struck out one.

• MLB hitters clearly have caught up with Brian Morris, who was shelled by St. Louis last night -- single, double, single, home run. Ditto Jared Hughes.



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