MIAMI -- At some point, the Pirates are going to need a starter to stick around.
And better baserunning.
And dramatically improved infield defense.
And some semblance of production from the heart of their order.
Until then, they surely will have to cope with many more deflating losses such as the 5-4 outcome the Florida Marlins handed them tonight: Mike Jacobs, the first batter in the bottom of the ninth inning, crushed a 1-1 Franquelis Osoria sinker high into the right-field seats to end it.
Matt Morris, making his season debut after a spring in which he posted an 8.03 ERA, labored to get through five innings. He allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits and two walks, with an unwieldy pitch count of 97.
No starter has pitched longer than six innings in the first four games.
The Pirates scored three times in the second inning, two on Chris Gomez's lunging, bases-loaded single to right and another on Nate McLouth's double to deep center.
Florida got one back in the bottom half on Scott Olsen's bases-loaded single, then tied in the third on Josh Willingham's two-run home run to left off Morris' 86-mph fastball. Olsen came up with bases loaded again later in the inning, but he lined out - sharply - to first.
Ryan Doumit put the Pirates back ahead, 4-3, to lead off the fourth. He lifted an 0-1 Olsen curve over the left-field fence for his first home run. It was his 22nd home run but only the second from the right side of the plate.
The Pirates' infield handed it right back in the bottom half, committing its fifth and sixth errors of the young season.
With two outs and Jacobs on first, Willingham hit a routine grounder to third base, and Jose Bautista threw a strikingly soft toss across the diamond that looked even worse when it sailed over first baseman Adam LaRoche's head. LaRoche retrieved it, then tried to nail Willingham going to second. But the throw skipped off Willingham's helmet and into center field to allow Jacobs to score and make it 4-4.
The Pirates had 83 errors all of last season, but already have six in four games, all by infielders.
In the sixth, there was another miscue, this time on offense: Xavier Nady drilled a ball off the left-field fence but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
Phil Dumatrait, the last pitcher on the staff to see action, relieved Morris in the bottom half and pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
The Pirates had a chance to break the tie in the eighth when Luis Rivas singled after one out and stole second. But Jason Bay and LaRoche each struck out.
Those two, the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, went a combined 0 for 8 with four strikeouts.
In the ninth, Doumit, like Nady, was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.
Counting Bautista getting picked off second base in the second inning, the Pirates have lost five runners on the basepaths in the early going, two by pickoff.
Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .