Pirates blanked again, this time by Reds, Arroyo
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, left, gets the force out at second on Adam LaRoche but can't complete the double play on Eric Hinske in the seventh inning last night at PNC Park.
Share with others:
It is one thing for the Pirates to get mowed down by some of the National League's finest pitchers, as has happened in the early going against Chris Carpenter, Aaron Harang and Yovani Gallardo.
But when someone struggling as sizably as Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo pulls it off, as he most assuredly did in a flatliner of a 4-0 loss to the Reds last night before 14,238 at PNC Park, it probably is time to look in the mirror.
"We're a little cold," leadoff man Nyjer Morgan said afterward. "No question about it."
Five paltry singles.
Eight total baserunners.
Two men setting foot on second base.
And, going back a bit further, no runs in the past two games or the past 22 innings, a span in which the Pirates have mustered all of nine hits, two for extra bases. Not since Adam LaRoche homered twice Sunday in San Diego have they put one over a fence.
Arroyo had been lugging a 6.48 ERA and was fresh off a nine-run, nine-hit, three-walk debacle against the Atlanta Braves this past weekend, but he stifled the Pirates through his eight innings, scattering three hits and shrugging off his only serious threat -- Morgan and Freddy Sanchez singled to open the Pirates' first -- with a 6-4-3 double play out of Nate McLouth.
Cincinnati closer Francisco Cordero finished it off.
"I think it was a little bit the pitching, a little bit us," Pirates manager John Russell said. "Arroyo did a nice job after the first. He's a master at changing speeds, and he kept us off balance. But, hey, we've got to find ways to score. We're in one of those funks that every team goes through. Unfortunately, because we're the Pirates, it maybe gets magnified a little more from the outside. But we'll be fine, especially if we keep pitching like that."
By that, Russell meant another strong effort by Zach Duke, who allowed one run on six hits over seven innings. His ERA lowered to 2.21, but his record fell, too, to 3-2.
More important, the Pirates have lost four in a row and are back at .500, at 11-11.
While several players in addition to Morgan acknowledged some team-wide pressing at the plate, praise also flowed liberally for Arroyo, who mixed good fastball command with that sweeping 68-mph curve and plenty in between.
"You can see the ball, but it's moving a lot," Pirates catcher Jason Jaramillo said. "It's not easy to hit."
"That looked like the same Arroyo I've seen every time we've faced him," third baseman Andy LaRoche said. "He put the ball where he wanted."
Arroyo cited the McLouth double play in the first as key.
"I had those two guys on early, but my command was good, and I just thought, 'If I can get through this inning without any runs, I'll be all right,' " Arroyo said. "Luckily, I got that double play."
Duke was only marginally less effective, limiting Cincinnati to three singles through five innings before finally getting nicked in the sixth: Willy Taveras led off with a book-rule double into the North Side Notch and, after he was bunted to third, Joey Votto's shot up the middle brought him home.
"I certainly felt good out there, had good command, but I just got outpitched by Bronson," Duke said. "I made one mistake, missed a spot to Taveras and left it out over the plate. He got the double, and that was that."
Duke was crisp with the fastball, as usual, and leaned more than the norm -- with good results -- on his changeup, especially against right-handers. The latter pitch allowed him to escape a bases-loaded jam later in that sixth, drawing a third-out comebacker from Alex Gonzalez.
John Grabow relieved Duke to open the eighth, and Brandon Phillips powered his first-pitch fastball above the Clemente Wall to put Cincinnati ahead, 2-0.
Tyler Yates allowed two unearned runs in the ninth.
Game: Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
Pitching: RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-2, 3.24) vs. RHP Micah Owings (1-2, 3.78)
Key matchup: Ohlendorf vs. Owings ... at the plate. Owings is an accomplished hitter, owning a .323 average, 5 home runs and 23 RBIs in 127 career at-bats.
Of note: The Pirates are scheduled to play 43 games in 45 days through June 14, with the only off-days May 11 and May 28.
First Published May 2, 2009 12:00 am