PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates saw their rotation’s dominant streak come to an end while their perplexing struggles against the D-backs continued in an 11-2 loss at PNC Park on Wednesday night. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs’ fourth consecutive defeat, which brought their record to 12-10 on the year.
Lyles used his fastball-curveball combination and an effective changeup to silence opponents’ bats in his first three starts for Pittsburgh, but Arizona’s hitters made plenty of loud contact against him Wednesday.
After allowing only one run in his first 17 innings of the season, Lyles was touched for five runs (four earned) on eight hits over five innings and saw his ERA jump from an MLB-best 0.53 to 2.05. The veteran right-hander praised Arizona’s aggressive lineup for hitting good pitches and mistakes alike.
“They didn’t stop. That’s what good offenses do,” Lyles said. “There’s not much room in their lineup to take a breath. They scored early and often.”
Eduardo Escobar tripled and scored on David Peralta’s single (95.9 mph) in the first inning, then Peralta scored after an infield single, a throwing error by Lyles and Wilmer Flores’ sacrifice fly.
Nick Ahmed homered (102.5 mph) off Lyles to lead off the second, then Caleb Joseph (100.8 mph) and Escobar (100.6 mph) ripped doubles to center to tack on another run. Lyles pitched a pair of clean innings, then Ketel Marte bashed the first of his two homers (102 mph) to center field in the fifth.
“When pitches were elevated, they didn’t miss. Their left-handed attack has played pretty strong in the three games so far,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “When mistakes were made, they were barreled up. A lot of directional hitting to the big part of the field. [Lyles] seemed to sync up a little bit in the third and fourth inning, then got another ball elevated that rode out of the ballpark in the fifth. Just overall, some inconsistent execution.”
Runs scored by the Pirates during their four-game losing streak
The Pirates have lost four consecutive games on the heels of a five-game winning streak, and they’ve hit .167 (6-for-36) with runners in scoring position since their last win.
Hurdle said he expects better things to come for the Bucs’ lineup even while they’re without injured outfielders Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson and Lonnie Chisenhall.
“We’ve got some guys that we’re counting on to provide some offense,” Hurdle said. “Whether it be [Adam] Frazier, who’s kind of swimming right now, kind of treading water. You’ve got [Francisco] Cervelli that’s shown offensive capabilities. You’ve got [Jung Ho] Kang that’s shown offensive capabilities; hopefully there was a tick up tonight and some action that’s going to happen.
“[Colin] Moran’s done his thing. [Melky] Cabrera’s done his thing. [Josh] Bell’s obviously in a good spot swinging the bat. But we could use some help from a couple other guys, for sure.”
Exit velocities of the home runs hit by Kang and Bell, respectively
Bell and Kang provided the Pirates’ only offensive highlights of the night, a pair of solo shots to center. The Pirates had been 5-0 this season when hitting multiple home runs in a game.
Bell ripped his fifth home run of the season off D-backs starter Merrill Kelly to lead off the fourth, and Kang went deep off Kelly in the sixth for his fourth homer of the year. Kang also doubled and walked, and the latter may have been as encouraging as his home run.
“The walks are good. With Cervelli, they’re good. It means they’re seeing pitches,” Hurdle said, referring to the pair of hitters with identical .167 batting averages. “They’re actually seeing the ball. They’re gearing up to hit. They’re seeing the ball. They’re getting better reads.”
Games in a row the D-backs have won at PNC Park
Arizona’s record against Pittsburgh since May 30, 2017
For whatever reason, the Pirates have struggled with the D-backs over the past two years -- especially at home. They’ll try to end the D-backs’ lengthy winning streak at PNC Park and avoid a four-game sweep on Thursday afternoon, when Jameson Taillon is set to face Zack Greinke at 12:35 p.m. ET.