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Bucs strand 13 as win streak ends vs. Padres

MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- Hitting with runners on base hasn't been a problem for the Pirates this season: They entered Friday night with the Majors' highest average with men on base, and ended the night still leading the league. But for four innings, the Bucs couldn't find the timely hit they needed.

The Pirates threatened to come back against the Padres in each of the last four innings but fell short, snapping their three-game winning streak with a 3-2 loss at PNC Park. Pittsburgh finished with two hits in 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position and left a season-high-tying 13 men on base.

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PITTSBURGH -- Hitting with runners on base hasn't been a problem for the Pirates this season: They entered Friday night with the Majors' highest average with men on base, and ended the night still leading the league. But for four innings, the Bucs couldn't find the timely hit they needed.

The Pirates threatened to come back against the Padres in each of the last four innings but fell short, snapping their three-game winning streak with a 3-2 loss at PNC Park. Pittsburgh finished with two hits in 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position and left a season-high-tying 13 men on base.

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"We kept pushing to get out there. Guys kept working the at-bats," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We missed the elusive big hit tonight."

As a team, the Pirates have put up better numbers this season when batting with runners in scoring position (.269/.344/.462) than they have overall (.260/.333/.428). That wasn't the case from the sixth inning on, however.

Padres starter Tyson Ross struck out David Freese in the sixth, stranding a pair of runners. Colin Moran went down swinging in the seventh against reliever Kirby Yates to leave runners on the corners. The Bucs loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, prompting the Padres to bring in lefty closer Brad Hand, but Gregory Polanco grounded out to end the threat.

They rallied once more in the ninth, when Corey Dickerson hit a leadoff double to left. But Josh Bell and Sean Rodriguez struck out, then Elias Diaz hit one last slider from Hand -- 18 of his 20 pitches were sliders -- to second base for a game-ending groundout.

"Give them some credit," Hurdle said. "They made the pitches and got the outs when they needed them."

You couldn't blame Pirates starter Ivan Nova if he felt the same way, too. For the most part, he bounced back well in his first quality start since April 26. He was efficient and walk-free, throwing 88 pitches in six innings. He forced the Padres to put the ball on the ground, logging nine groundouts and only two in the air. He didn't give up many big hits, but a few little moments led to his fourth loss of the season.

Video: SD@PIT: Nova freezes Cordero in the 2nd inning

Nova entered the fourth inning with a two-run lead. Travis Jankowski hit a leadoff single to left, stole second and scored on Eric Hosmer's 112.2-mph double to right field. Then Nova hurt his own cause, dropping what would have been the second out of the inning as he ran to cover first base on Franchy Cordero's grounder to Bell. Hosmer advanced to third on the play and scored the tying run on a groundout by Raffy Lopez.

"The play at first, I've been hurting myself. I'm the one getting myself in trouble on that play," Nova said. "I think I closed the glove too soon."

The Padres' go-ahead rally in the sixth began with Hosmer's two-out, check-swing hustle double to left on a low-and-away curveball from Nova. Cordero then singled to left, and Hosmer came around to score. Hurdle chalked it up to bad luck, and Nova mostly agreed.

"The curveball down and away, check-swing double, not too much luck there," Nova said. "What can you do about it? Maybe make a better pitch, who knows. It was off the plate. He just checked [his] swing and hit a double. Nothing you can do about it."

SOUND SMART
• Dickerson's leadoff double in the ninth, which was reviewed, was the first hit Hand allowed to a left-handed batter all season. Entering the night, lefties were a combined 0-for-25 with four walks and 15 strikeouts against Hand this season.

Video: SD@PIT: Dickerson's double confirmed after a review

• Bell finished 1-for-4 with an RBI double, bringing his slash line in May to .354/.458/.625 with 11 RBIs and eight extra-base hits. Bell struggled to a .198/.265/.415 slash line with 25 strikeouts in May last season.

Video: SD@PIT: Bell hits towering RBI double to left field

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Nova had an eventful night in the field even beyond the fourth inning. Freddy Galvis led off the fifth with a chopper back to Nova, but the ball got stuck in the webbing of Nova's glove. Nova trotted toward first base, trying to remove the ball, but ultimately just flipped the whole glove to Bell at first base to record the out. That was a new experience even for the nine-year veteran.

"It just stuck in there," Nova said.

Video: Must C Curious: Nova tosses glove to first for out

HE SAID IT
"To be honest with you, I didn't think too much about the game. With my family being here, I tried to enjoy time with them, enjoy everything. Enjoy every moment I had with them -- I haven't seen them in a while -- and try not to talk too much baseball. For me, if I thought I was talking about it, then that'd be a little more pressure that led up to the moment. But I really enjoyed today." -- Center fielder Austin Meadows, on whether his Major League debut lived up to his expectations

• Meadows goes 2-for-4 in stellar MLB debut

Video: SD@PIT: Meadows collects two hits, SB in MLB debut

UP NEXT
The Pirates intend to recall right-hander Nick Kingham, who won his first two Major League starts, to start against the Padres on Saturday night at PNC Park. Kingham flirted with a perfect game in his debut and beat the Brewers before returning to the Minors. Kingham will face Padres lefty Clayton Richard at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Bell, Austin Meadows, Ivan Nova