BALTIMORE -- While strong pitching helped the Pirates survive two meager months on the other end of the plate, poor pitching has put the brakes on the team's recent surge.
A second sub-par outing in as many nights cost the Pirates in a 7-1 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday night at Camden Yards. Starter Kevin Correia allowed five runs, four earned, on 10 hits in six innings. One night earlier, Brad Lincoln struggled to solve Baltimore's lineup.
After winning four in a row and 13 of their previous 15 games, the Pirates (32-29) have now lost two consecutive games and drop their first series in their past six tries.
The Pirates surrendered 13 hits Wednesday after the Orioles (36-26) pounded 15 in an 8-6 Pirate loss Tuesday night. The 13 hits allowed are tied for the third most by the Pirates this season.
The Orioles blasted two home runs off Pirate pitchers, including Chris Davis' broken bat home run against reliever Tony Watson that padded the Orioles' lead in the seventh inning.
But by then, the game was long over after a dominating outing by Jake Arrieta.
A late substitution after scheduled starter Brian Matusz bruised his nose after bunting a foul ball in his face the day earlier, Arrieta tied a career high by striking out nine batters in seven innings. He allowed one earned run on seven hits.
It was a sharp departure from Arrieta's recent performances on the mound -- he had lost seven of his last eight starts and had surrendered 24 earned runs in his past four outings.
Correia struggled with his command throughout the night, but especially in the early going, missing catcher Michael McKenry's spots by a matter of feet, not inches.
Four of the 10 hits Correia allowed were extra-base hits, including a sixth-inning home run he served to Wilson Betemit. Unable to locate his pitches in the zone, Correia struck out one batter.
The Pirates missed a chance to get to Arrieta in the fourth inning. Trailing 3-0, the Pirates had the bases with two outs behind a pair of singles from Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee and a Jose Tabata walk.
But Clint Barmes swung at the first pitch he saw and sent a weak grounder to shortstop to end the threat.
The Pirates also loaded the bases in the seventh inning, this time with one out. The Pirates plated a run when Neil Walker grounded out to first base, but the inning ended when Andrew McCutchen grounded out to third.
Correia surrendered three consecutive hits to start the second inning. Mark Reynolds singled to centerfield and scored when Wilson Betemit doubled to the gap in right-centerfield. He scored when former Pirate Steve Pearce singled up the middle of the infield allowing the Orioles to take a 3-0 lead.
The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Chris Davis hit a double off the wall in left field that Alex Presley misplayed and chased back toward the infield. That allowed J.J. Hardy to score from first. Correia walked Adam Jones to put runners on first and second with one out before getting Matt Wieters to hit into a double play.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino.