Tough, extra-inning loss doesn't derail Pirates' winning mentality


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ST. LOUIS -- There was agony on the other end of the phone line.

Manager Clint Hurdle could hear it in the voice of his daughter, Maddie, 11, who called her dad Wednesday upset over the Pirates 14-inning loss Tuesday night to the Cardinals in the wee hours.

"Well Maddie, she's a very passionate Bucco fan," Hurdle told reporters. "I told her that Pirate ships don't have rear-view mirrors, so we're sailing forward.

"I try and keep it in Pirate terms."

He told her: "Pirates love tomorrows Maddie, and tomorrow's today, so here we go."

And then they did.

If the 14-inning heartbreaker Tuesday epitomized the Pirates' struggles this season -- a good start from the pitching staff, strong showing by the bullpen, but a lack of timely hitting and one ouch of an error -- the response Wednesday night might epitomize the personality of the team, said players.

With two runs in the second and three in the fourth, the Pirates responded with a 5-1 win Wednesday night at Busch Stadium to regain a three-game cushion atop the National League Central Division.

Likely enough to make Maddie Hurdle happy again.

"That story resonates through with all of us," said relief pitcher Jared Hughes, who was charged with the loss Tuesday in a game that actually ended early Wednesday morning. "It's always a new day, a new chance to win.

"[Hurdle] is definitely intense, but, at the same time, he's the best manager I've ever had in terms of starting new the next day and being ready to come back out 100 percent prepared and ready to go to win."

Hurdle's philosophy?

"It's honestly self-evaluating, accepting responsibility, knowing your roles, knowing your responsibilities. And then when those aren't met, dealing with them professionally," he said. "And then you take a shower and you go."

He saw it as one loss.

One loss that held no more weight than any other.

"It serves us best. The team's I've been on that have been successful have been of that mindset," Hurdle said. "I've also been on some teams that you know there's been a lot of athletic chaos, it's reactionary. ... It works for us. You watch 'em come in every day. You look their eyes you look at the way they walk. I see what I want to see. I listen to them. You hear what you need to hear. None of that has changed."

Even when it's a really frustrating one, said players.

Starling Marte dropped a routine fly ball in the ninth Tuesday night that allowed the tying run to reach second.

That turned into Mark Melancon's first blown save since taking over as closer -- on an unearned run -- and eventually a 4-3 loss when pinch-hitter Adron Chambers hit a walk-off single in the 14th.

The clubhouse was light Wednesday before the second game of the series.

Bon Jovi and Dave Matthews Band songs played before batting practice. Some played cards.

"I think he's instilled it in us. Every time he talks about it, it's just one game at a time. No one game is bigger than another, or the next," shortstop Jordy Mercer said. "We know we've got a solid squad, know we've got a group of guys who rally around each other.

"It's good to hear that from the leader of the club. You know that he's over it. He's ready to move on. It makes it easier to move on," Mercer said.

By game's end Wednesday night, Francisco Liriano had a bounceback win of his own, pitching an incredibly efficient complete game.

Pedro Alvarez hit homer No. 29, and Marte stretched a single into a double driving in two key runs in the fifth.

"It was important because every game counts," Liriano said. "It was a tough game we lost [Tuesday]. We put that one behind us, came ready to play. We're just taking it game by game, and one inning. We're not trying to do too much, just trying to have fun."

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published August 15, 2013 4:45 AM


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