What is it, exactly, that Jesse Chavez was doing wrong?
That surely was the dominant question of the 11,470 who watched the Pirates waste a late lead and lose to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-3, tonight at PNC Park.
Ross Ohlendorf had pitched well enough to make Andy LaRoche's early two-run home run and a 2-1 lead stand up through the sixth. Chavez followed by striking out the side in the seventh and retiring his first batter of the eighth when Russell summoned inconsistent Joel Hanrahan, and the game soon unraveled ...
Hanrahan walked his first batter, then got a comebacker from Chad Tracy. It was a good pitch, but Hanrahan spun toward second, eying a 1-6-3 double play, and his errant throw was low. Everyone was safe, and Russell now turned to Evan Meek.
Chris Young smashed a single into left, and Lastings Milledge's throw home was dropped by catcher Jason Jaramillo, allowing the tying run.
After a second out, Stephen Drew rifled a single up the middle, and Arizona led, 4-2.
The Pirates have lost four in a row, including the first two to the Diamondbacks.
Hanrahan had been better of late - a 1.93 ERA in his past 10 appearances - but he had allowed at least a hit or a walk in nine of those, and his overall ERA of 6.70 is highest on the staff.
Chavez has a 3.60 ERA and has held opponents to a .211 average in his past 16 appearances.
Steve Pearce led off the Pirates' second with a walk, and LaRoche gave the Pirates their first runs in four games against Arizona with one swing, sending Doug Davis' slider into the left-field bleachers for his fifth home run and a 2-0 lead.
Ohlendorf made that stand up until the sixth when, after one out, Ryan Roberts - who had two home runs when the Diamondbacks' chartered into Pittsburgh - belted his third in two nights, off a 93-mph fastball and into the bleachers.
The Pirates' continuing misery on offense is morphing from a slump to something larger: Since the All-Star break, they are batting .238 with a .295 on-base percentage and 67 runs, all three of those figures second-worst in Major League Baseball in that span.
Davis held the Pirates scoreless after LaRoche's shot and lasted seven innings. Jon Rauch pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Chad Qualls gave up Garrett Jones' ninth-inning home run after one out - Jones' 11th and first since July 24 - but Pearce grounded out, and LaRoche struck out.