PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen got a warm reception in his return to PNC Park, but the San Francisco right fielder and his teammates had more relevant items on their agenda on Friday.The Giants arrived seeking to end a four-game losing streak after being swept in Philadelphia. Instead, the skid reached
PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen got a warm reception in his return to PNC Park, but the San Francisco right fielder and his teammates had more relevant items on their agenda on Friday.
The Giants arrived seeking to end a four-game losing streak after being swept in Philadelphia. Instead, the skid reached five as rookie left-hander Andrew Suarez gave up a pair of two-run homers and the Pirates collected 15 hits in their 11-2 victory.
The Pirates' marquee player for the better part of a decade until his January trade to the Giants, McCutchen went 1-for-5, stranding six baserunners. He said he was touched by the tribute, which included two video presentations and a prolonged standing ovation before his first time at the plate. He got loud cheers for his subsequent at-bats, too.
"These fans came and they showed their support, and that says a lot to me," McCutchen said. "I'm humbled by it, and I appreciate it. I always have. And I always will."
Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who extended the festivities by refusing to assume his position behind the plate until he was good and ready, said, "This is one time in his life he needs to enjoy, because he did a lot of good things in this organization. This guy was impressive for me, best player in this organization. He deserves all that."
Yet despite the feel-good atmosphere, McCutchen acknowledged that the circumstances and atmosphere kind of got to him.
"You try your best to make it as normal as possible but you're playing against a bunch of guys you played with," McCutchen said. "That's not normal. That's not easy. You gotta go out and compete and I did my best to do that, but I think [the occasion] had the advantage over me a little bit."
McCutchen took a called third strike in the first inning. In the third, he struck out trying to check his swing with runners at the corners and two outs. He grounded out in the fifth inning with a runner on first before hitting a one-out double in the seventh.
Pittsburgh led, 8-2, in the eighth when McCutchen had a chance to impact the game, coming up with the bases loaded and two outs. He hit into a force play to end the threat.
Not particularly known for his arm, McCutchen threw out Colin Moran at the plate as he tried to score from second base on Max Moroff's single in the sixth.
Suarez, making his fourth Major League start and coming off his first win against Atlanta, yielded a two-run homer to Starling Marte in the first inning and a two-run shot by rookie Jose Osuna that capped a three-run fourth. Osuna's homer followed Jordy Mercer's RBI triple.
The Giants had tied the game in the top of the fourth on Austin Jackson's two-run single. Even with Pirates starter Jameson Taillon leaving after three innings with a lacerated finger, that was their only source of offense. Pittsburgh pitchers recorded 14 strikeouts, bringing the total to 69 for the Giants in the five losses.
"We're having a hard time making contact," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Even productive outs."
Suarez lasted four innings in his shortest and rockiest outing of the season, allowing five runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked two as his ERA swelled from 3.06 to 4.57.
"My command wasn't very good," Suarez said. "I left a lot of pitches down the middle of the plate and gave up a lot of hits. ... I was just trying to locate fastballs in, and they were in the middle of the plate and they took advantage of it."
Bochy said, "He kept missing his spots there. He paid for it."
Pittsburgh scored three runs off Giants relievers Cory Gearrin and Jose Valdez, and former Pirate Tony Watson gave up Moroff's three-run homer in the eighth.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
McCutchen had a chance to make things interesting when he came to the plate in the eighth facing George Kontos with the Giants down by six and the bases loaded with two outs. Given a chance to add some storybook drama to the scenario and also tighten the game, he hit into a force play.
"I was off tonight," McCutchen said. "I didn't have a great day today at the plate. I was just trying to go up there and battle. [Kontos] gave me a couple of pitches, but I just got on top of one. It would have been nice. It would have been nice if I went 5-for-5 with a win, but that didn't happen."
HE SAID IT
"We're not doing a lot offensively, and the pitching's not on top of their game. That's why we're in this little streak we're in right now. Hey, you've got to deal with this. You gotta keep coming and going hard. That's all you can do. The offense breaks out, or a well-pitched game, that's what we need right now." -- Bochy
Right-hander Jeff Samardzija hopes to get on track for the Giants on Saturday at PNC Park at 4:05 PT in Game 2 of the series against the Pirates and righty Chad Kuhl (4-2, 4.12 ERA). An 11-year veteran, Samardzija is 1-2 with a 6.62 ERA in four starts since coming off the disabled list (strained right pectoral) last month.
Bob Cohn is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.