PITTSBURGH -- After a week-long, team-wide slump, the Pirates' power returned on Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Bucs, so did the struggles of Jameson Taillon and the middle relievers.Taillon gave up seven runs and couldn't get out of the fourth inning, his second straight short start, as the Tigers piled
PITTSBURGH -- After a week-long, team-wide slump, the Pirates' power returned on Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Bucs, so did the struggles of Jameson Taillon and the middle relievers.
Taillon gave up seven runs and couldn't get out of the fourth inning, his second straight short start, as the Tigers piled up 20 hits in a 13-10 victory in the opener of Wednesday's doubleheader at PNC Park.
"Things can be contagious," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We need the bat thing to be contagious and not the thing off the mound."
The Pirates' 14-hit offensive attack was their silver lining. They scored only five runs in a four-game sweep at Philadelphia last weekend, but the bottom of the lineup delivered a couple big hits off Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann. Francisco Cervelli drove in a career-high six runs with a three-run homer in the third, an RBI single in the fifth and a two-run double in the eighth.
"We were able to go do some things on offense," Hurdle said. "Some guys, I believe, could pick up some confidence from the way we were able to swing the bat in Game 1."
But Taillon couldn't hold a lead, allowing consistently hard contact as he surrendered 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings. Over his past two starts, Taillon has given up 12 runs on 14 hits in only 5 1/3 innings. During that span, his ERA has jumped from 0.89 to 4.91.
When Taillon struggled in the second half of last season, he felt he had fallen into bad mechanical habits that flattened out his fastball. But the right-hander said he felt fine physically on Wednesday, and his fastball velocity was not an issue.
Taillon was not wild, either, as 57 of his 75 pitches were strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the 21 hitters he faced and didn't walk a batter. But Taillon's command within the zone was problematic.
"A lot of strikes. Stuff felt really good," Taillon said. "It seemed like the mistakes I made just got punished. At this level, you can't make mistakes."
Tigers leadoff man Leonys Martin took Taillon deep in the first inning, and a JaCoby Jones double gave the Tigers a two-run lead. Colin Moran tied the game with a homer to right, then Taillon gave up three straight hits -- the last a comebacker off his leg -- in the third. The three-run lead Cervelli gave the Pirates didn't last long, as James McCann homered and Jose Cabrera chased Taillon with a game-tying double off the right-field wall in the fourth.
"There's just too many mistakes, arm-side fastballs up over the plate, then he didn't really have secondary pitches as weapons," Hurdle said of Taillon.
Nicholas Castellanos promptly sent reliever Kyle Crick's first pitch into the left-field seats for a two-run homer. The Pirates pulled within a run in the fifth, but Jeimer Candelario ripped a solo homer to right off Edgar Santana in the sixth. Lefty Enny Romero allowed three runs in the eighth and another in the ninth, when Cervelli threw away Niko Goodrum's grounder in front of the plate.
"That team over there can swing the bat," Hurdle said. "We knew that coming in, and they did tonight."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The last hitter Taillon faced was representative of his entire night. With two out and runners on the corners, Taillon got ahead of Cabrera in the count, 0-2. Cabrera took a curveball in the dirt, then swatted a fastball in the middle of the zone off the Clemente Wall in right field for a two-run double, ending Taillon's outing.
Six of the 10 hits Taillon allowed were on fastballs, and six of the 10 hits came with two strikes.
"Two-strike pitching in general was tough," Taillon said.
HE SAID IT
"Those first couple starts, I just wasn't really making mistakes. When I did, I was getting away with them because I was making so many good pitches in a row. But when hitters set their sights on the middle of the zone and you throw it there, they capitalize on it. I feel like the same guy." -- Taillon, on his struggles the last two starts
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Video coordinator Kevin Roach delivered the Pirates an extra out and at least one additional run in the third inning. With one out and runners on the corners, Josh Bell hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop Jose Iglesias. Goodrum made the turn at second base, forcing out Starling Marte, but Bell beat the throw to first, allowing Adam Frazier to score the tying run.
But the Bucs challenged the out call at second, correctly identifying that Goodrum's foot came off the bag. The initial call was overturned, and Marte returned to second with one out. Dickerson went down swinging, which would have been the final out if not for the replay reversal, then Cervelli homered.
"It was a big replay. That's that double-edged sword of the game. That play never gets called a few years ago, and you move on," Hurdle said. "It was a good catch by Roach in the video booth. Somebody in the dugout screamed that it looked funny. Yeah, it played out well for us."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.