Players seek changes after 11th consecutive loss
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LOS ANGELES -- It is time, perhaps, for a change.
That was the overwhelming sentiment in the players' portion of the clubhouse on the occasion of the Pirates' 11th consecutive loss, 7-4 to Los Angeles yesterday at Dodger Stadium.
"I don't know if it's going to do us any good but, obviously, we need to mix something up," left fielder Jason Bay said. "We're stagnant. We're making the same mistakes over and over, and we're not learning from them a lot of the time."
Asked to clarify if he meant changing some players, he replied, "That's what I mean. It might not be the answer, but we're looking for anything to jump-start us right now. This isn't working."
Shortstop Jack Wilson, the most tenured player, seemed on the same page.
"We've lost 11 in a row, and we went 0-6 on this trip without being competitive the whole way through," he said. "The type of baseball we're playing is just not getting it done. Whether it's a lineup shake-up or players changing ... I think most of the guys are open to whatever is suggested."
"Something has to change," reliever Salomon Torres said. "I'm not the general manager or the owner to make what changes are best for the team. But I know one thing: Something has to change."
Torres pointed to himself as a possible trade candidate, as more veterans seem to be doing by the day.
"It might happen. And if that's what it's going to take for us to be a better team, for Salomon to go somewhere else ... I don't want to see this team suffer anymore. This is eating us alive. It's killing us. You know, I'm willing to leave my arm on that mound for my team. A lot of us have that feeling. But something's not clicking."
General manager Dave Littlefield, the man who would make personnel changes, sounded as if he would not be adverse to doing so.
"We're always looking at situations," he said. "Certainly, where there are subpar performances, that's something we're going to look at."
This latest defeat, perhaps because of all the losing that preceded it, never quite had the feel that the Pirates were in it, even though they led for the first three innings and twice mounted rallies after that.
Kip Wells fared better in his second start than his 3 1/3-inning return Tuesday in Kansas City, allowing five runs in as many innings. He did not have peak velocity, evidenced by the lack of a strikeout, but his command and composure were improved. He cut down his walks from five to two, and four of the nine hits he allowed were struck with little authority.
"He competed well," manager Jim Tracy said. "I saw more velocity in Kansas City, but I saw more quality here. And he wasn't hit all that hard."
"Right from the beginning, he made good pitches," pitching coach Jim Colborn said.
Wells expressed some satisfaction -- "I went out there with a game plan and stayed within myself," he said -- but also acknowledged feeling the burden of trying to end the Pirates' losing streak while, at the same time, trying to rediscover his form.
"It's a tough day," he said. "The weather's hot, and you're trying to deal with all the other circumstances that we have right now."
It was 85 degrees when the Pirates leaped ahead in the first on Bay's two-out RBI double.
Los Angeles scored four in the fourth on five singles. Two were bleeders through the infield, the second of those prompting Wells to display visible displeasure.
"It's frustrating," Wells said. "You're hoping one of those gets hit to somebody."
The last of the hits, though, was a two-out, two-run liner by Rafael Furcal that made the score 4-1.
The Pirates cut the deficit to one in their next at-bat. Nate McLouth doubled and scored on Freddy Sanchez's single. Sanchez took two bases on a Brad Penny wild pitch that skipped high off the backstop, then trotted home on a Sean Casey single.
The Dodgers nicked Wells for another in the fifth on a run-scoring groundout, and the Pirates again answered. Joe Randa's home run, his second, led off the sixth to pull his team within 5-4.
But reliever Damaso Marte gave Los Angeles two more in the seventh, including Nomar Garciaparra's solo home run.
"We just got beat. That's all," Tracy said. "We did the very best we could. We chipped away here and there. We got within a run a couple of times. We just couldn't get it done."
Tracy shrugged off a question about the losing streak.
"We have a day off, and then Tuesday's another day. We know what's in front of us. It's not going to get any easier. There's nobody in the National or American leagues who's going to feel sorry for us, that's for sure."
On deck are the two best teams in Major League Baseball, the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers, coming to PNC Park.
And keep the ear to the ground for these footsteps, too: The Kansas City Royals, on a 6-1 roll but still the worst team in the sport, are 1 1/2 games behind the Pirates.
The Pirates have an off day and open a three-game series tomorrow against the world champion White Sox at PNC Park.Ric Francis, Associated Press photos
Pirates shortstop Freddy Sanchez can't reach a single by the Dodgers' Kenny Lofton in the third inning of yesterday's game at Dodger Stadium.
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Provided by Forecaster
Dodgers' J.D. Drew is out at home plate as Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino throws to first base yesterday in Los Angeles.
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First Published June 26, 2006 12:00 am