Difficulties on the mound, small and large, hurt the Pirates Thursday night.
In a span of four batters, Vance Worley went from throwing a no-hitter against the Arizona Diamondbacks to putting himself in line for the loss. Then, Ernesto Frieri and Jeanmar Gomez served up hit after hit in the ninth inning, turning what was a one-run game into a blowout.
Worley allowed three runs in the sixth and the bullpen faltered late in the Pirates' 10-2 loss against the Diamondbacks at PNC Park. The loss broke the Pirates' three-game win streak. It also marked the eighth time this season the Pirates have failed to complete a series sweep this season.
Worley (2-1) used 89 pitches through seven innings of three-run baseball, allowing four hits -- all in the sixth and seventh -- and striking out six. He took a no-hitter into the sixth, but David Peralta's two-run home run erased what was left of an early 2-0 Pirates lead and put Arizona ahead, 3-2.
"We just had a meeting last night, like, hey, we just need to work as a team," said Peralta, who went 3 for 5 with four RBIs. "Then today, we started off with no hits, then we ended up hitting like 10."
Worley was perfect before walking leadoff batter Miguel Montero in the fifth. A forceout, popup and grounder right back to the pitcher ensured that no runner reached scoring position.
He needed 39 pitches, 30 of them strikes, to complete those perfect innings. He recorded three strikeouts, all fastballs, all on called third strikes. He got help in the form of four line drives right at -- or in the case of right fielder Gregory Polanco, near -- his fielders.
Worley walked another leadoff batter, Didi Gregorius, in the sixth. Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy bunted Gregorius to second before Ender Inciarte's RBI single -- the Diamondbacks' first hit -- cut the Pirates' lead to 2-1.
"Early on, I was able to get ahead in the count, throw strikes and make them swing," Worley said. "As the game continued on, lost command of my two-seam fastball and was getting behind."
Peralta began his pro career as a pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. After a stop in independent ball, he joined the Diamondbacks organization last year and made his major league debut last month. Following Inciarte's single, Peralta drove a 2-0 slider over the Clemente Wall in right for his third home run, giving the Diamondbacks a 3-2 lead.
"He's played well for us since he's come up and he likes to the play the game," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said.
The game stayed close until the ninth, when Frieri and Gomez teamed to allow the Diamondbacks to send 11 batters to the plate and score seven runs. Frieri, the Pirates' new acquisition from the Los Angeles Angels, allowed five runs and five hits in 1/3 of an inning.
"Behind in counts at times and ball elevated a little bit," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Wasn't able to get his secondary pitches into play with any consistency."
The Pirates scratched two runs off McCarthy (3-10), who had allowed the most hits in the National League before the game. He worked 52/3 innings, giving way to former Pirates starter Oliver Perez, a lefthander, when Pedro Alvarez came to the plate with a man on and two outs in the sixth. Josh Harrison pinch-hit for Alvarez and grounded into a forceout on the first pitch.
Polanco drove in Jordy Mercer, who had doubled and reached third on a grounder, in the third for the Pirates' first run.
Neil Walker stretched a hit into a double to start the fourth. Russell Martin and Ike Davis singled, with Davis driving in Walker and giving the Pirates runners on first and second with no outs. That was the only run the Pirates scored that inning. Alvarez grounded into a double play, and, after an intentional walk to Mercer, Worley struck out.
"The double play in the fourth cut down some momentum that we were building," Hurdle said. "We got one run in, first and second with no outs, he was able to get through that, cut off that inning, and then we didn't score another run the rest of the game."
Jourdon LaBarber contributed. Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.
First Published July 3, 2014 10:42 PM