CINCINNATI -- Three days after Labor Day, Tom Gorzelanny pitched as if yesterday were the Fourth of July all over again.
You'll recall that two months ago in Milwaukee, the left-hander allowed 11 hits, 4 walks and 8 runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The day after that holiday meltdown, the Pirates sent him to Class AAA Indianapolis to regroup in a less-pressurized environment. A seven-start stint there was supposed to have cleared up what ailed Gorzelanny, but it now seems apparent the sabbatical didn't help.
Yesterday against Cincinnati, Gorzelanny pitched poorly for the second time in three starts since rejoining the Pirates and was a mighty contributor in an 8-6 loss to the Reds.
"You couldn't have scripted a better day," manager John Russell said. "We were going for a sweep and we had a five-run lead. We couldn't take advantage."
- Box score
- Game: Pirates vs. San Francisco Giants, 10:15 p.m., AT&T Park.
- Radio: WPGB-FM (104.7).
- Pitching: LHP Zach Duke (4-13, 5.14) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (3-7, 5.35).
- Key matchup: The Brothers LaRoche vs. Correia. Lifetime combined, Adam (4 for 8 with three doubles) and Andy (1 for 3 with a double) are 5 for 11 with four doubles against Correia.
- Of note: Duke, who hasn't won anywhere since June 9, hasn't won on the road in 17 starts since a victory May 27, 2007, in Cincinnati.
Gorzelanny, handed a 5-0 lead after the top of the second inning, was gone with two outs in the fourth.
The Reds used a picket-fence offense -- scoring single runs in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings -- to tie the score, 5-5.
Then, after Nate McLouth's leadoff home run in the eighth put the Pirates back ahead, the Reds capitalized on Craig Hansen's lack of control and scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to win it.
"The tone was set early," Russell said.
Gorzelanny allowed 7 hits, 2 walks and 3 runs in 3 2/3 innings. Of his 82 pitches, only 48 were strikes.
In his three starts post-Indianapolis, Gorzelanny has yielded 18 hits, 7 walks and 12 runs in 15 1/3 innings.
Yesterday, he had little command of his pitches.
"At times, I'd make good pitches," he said. "At times, I wouldn't."
Said Russell succinctly: "To compete at this level, it's tough [doing] that."
The Pirates can't send Gorzelanny back to Indianapolis this year. The minor league season is over. So Gorzelanny, who in 20 starts with the Pirates this season has pitched fewer than five innings six times, will stay in the September six-man rotation.
"We'll still try to find out some things," Russell said.
That goes for Hansen, too.
Acquired from Boston in the three-team trade July 31 that sent Jason Bay to the Red Sox, the hard-throwing right-hander should be a candidate for a setup role in next season's bullpen.
Uh, maybe not.
"He wanted to dominate the inning, and it got away from him," Russell said. "He throws hard. We just have to harness it."
In his 10 1/3 innings with the Pirates, Hansen has yielded 14 walks.
The defeat was the Pirates' 80th of the season, putting them just two losses away from tying a professional sports record with 16 consecutive losing seasons.
They quickly reached the doorstep of that dubious achievement by losing 22 of 31 games, including going 7-21 in August.
"With the August we had, people say, 'Here we go again. Nothing's different. Same old Pirates,' " Russell said. "It's hard for people to see that it is different. But I think if you're around it and you've been around it, you see that it has changed.
"The [trades] that we made weren't popular with the fans, but they were moves we knew coming in we were going to have to make. We've added some players. We've added some depth.
"[General manager Neal Huntington] is never going to be satisfied. He's always going to be looking to make us better. When the general manager says there are no scholarships, I think that sends a message to everybody.
"So I think it's going to be a fun winter and an interesting rest of the season -- getting a look at some of these guys. There's a lot to build off of."
It should be an interesting spring training, too.
The Pirates do have more candidates for pitching jobs -- and there will be jobs available. Only Paul Maholm is a lock in the rotation. Only a few are locks in the bullpen.
"We've made great strides and you hate for August to just sour all of that, " Russell said.