Pirates strike out to Indians, 2-0
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CLEVELAND -- Justin Masterson encapsulated the feel of Friday evening during a five-batter span.
From the second to the fourth inning, from Jose Tabata to Neil Walker, the Cleveland Indian's starter was dominant. He struck out five batters in a row and discouraged the Pirates' quest for offense, as he continued to do for the rest of the game.
The Pirates struck out nine times against Masterson in a 2-0 loss to the Indians Friday night at Progressive Field.
The Pirates lost their fourth consecutive game after winning four in a row.
They struggled to get on base, and when they reached, they did not convert their opportunities into runs. They loaded the bases in the fourth when Andrew McCutchen walked, then ran on the pitch to Casey McGehee. McGehee singled, putting runners on first and third, and Pedro Alvarez walked to load the bases before Jose Tabata struck out.
The Pirates had another shot in the sixth, when Neil Walker led off with a ground-rule double. McCutchen grounded out, sending Walker to third, but Garrett Jones popped out and McGehee grounded out.
Masterson's control momentarily deserted him in the seventh. He walked Tabata, then hit Josh Harrison in the back after getting Rod Barajas to fly out to put men on first and second with two outs. He threw a wild pitch to Alex Presley, putting runners on second and third, but Presley flied out to end the inning.
Masterson (3-6) pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits and walking three.
James McDonald kept the Pirates afloat despite their offensive performance. He threw 67 pitches in the first three innings, but needed a combined 34 in the final three.
McDonald's command hindered him in the early innings. He fell behind batters and missed away from left-handers, the only type of hitter he faced: The Indians started seven lefties and two switch-hitters. McDonald finished with 54 strikes out of 101 pitches.
McDonald (5-3) rebounded from a four-inning outing Saturday, where he allowed three runs on five hits. He lowered his ERA for the season to 2.32. The Pirates have not scored a run in any of McDonald's three losses this season.
The Indians got the only run they needed in the third. With two outs, Carlos Santana worked a 3-2 count. Asdrubal Cabrera, who had walked, took off for second on McDonald's pitch. The curveball fooled Santana, but he poked it down the third-base line and into shallow left field. Because Cabrera ran on the pitch, he was able to score, and the Indians took a 1-0 lead.
Tony Watson relieved McDonald in the seventh and allowed consecutive singles to Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman, putting runners on first and third with no outs. He got pinch-hitter Jose Lopez to pop out before Jack Hannahan flied out to left. Alex Presley threw a bullet to catch Damon, who tagged on the play, at the plate and end the inning.
Jason Grilli walked two batters in the eighth inning, forcing manager Clint Hurdle to summon Juan Cruz with two on and two outs. Cruz surrendered a single to Michael Brantley that scored Shin-Soo Choo and put the Indians ahead by two.
First Published June 15, 2012 10:07 pm