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Hurdle appreciates lineup's patience despite results

PITTSBURGH -- There were many reasons Thursday afternoon-evening had to be one of the most maddening days in the long career of Clint Hurdle.

Start with twin losses to the Orioles, add 28 men left on base (a club-high for a twin bill in the last 40 years), include 6-for-30 with men in scoring position ... and still none of that may be what most ate at the Buccos' manager.

Try this: His batters bought impressively into Hurdle's sermons, executed faithfully.

Hurdle was moved to compliment the lineup's plate patience for "improving. We got men on base with regularity."

And it still didn't bring the desired results.

Making pitchers work is a critical aspect of the approach. And Pirates hitters forced the Orioles to deliver 375 pitches in the two games -- 78 more than their own hurlers -- and worked their way to 22 three-ball counts.

Yet … the Bucs could turn only half of those three-ball counts into walks.

Perhaps most frustrating, they let Game 2 starter Chris Tillman survive a 49-pitch first inning to work gamely into the fifth.

"You'd like to think you can push him out earlier than we did," Hurdle said. "But, conversely, he threw strikes after that, spun the ball better and seemed to get in a better rhythm. The dynamic kinda changed [when Tillman began throwing first-pitch strikes]."

After the 49 pitches in the first, Tillman needed 63 more to go two outs into the fifth. The inability to dig a deeper hole for him came back to haunt the Pirates in the 10-inning, 6-5 defeat.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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