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Pirates offense stalled by D-backs, rain

MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- In Friday night's loss to the D-Backs, the Pirates pitched well but didn't hit enough to support it. On Saturday, they couldn't do either.

Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove allowed five earned runs through four innings, while Zack Greinke limited the Bucs to two hits over six shutout frames in Pittsburgh's 7-2 loss at PNC Park. The defeat was the Pirates' fourth straight and dropped them to four games below .500 for the first time this season.

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PITTSBURGH -- In Friday night's loss to the D-Backs, the Pirates pitched well but didn't hit enough to support it. On Saturday, they couldn't do either.

Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove allowed five earned runs through four innings, while Zack Greinke limited the Bucs to two hits over six shutout frames in Pittsburgh's 7-2 loss at PNC Park. The defeat was the Pirates' fourth straight and dropped them to four games below .500 for the first time this season.

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Pittsburgh had one of the best offenses in baseball through its first 43 games, averaging five runs per game en route to a 26-17 start. Since then, the Pirates have lost 23 of their last 33 while averaging 3.7 runs per game.

Their offensive woes continued on Saturday, thanks in part to Greinke's ability to mix up his velocity. The right-hander hurled 88 pitches, maxing out at 90.7 mph with his four-seam fastball and dipping as low as 67.5 mph with his eephus pitch to keep hitters guessing.

"[He] throws his breaking balls where he wants them, then he mixes in that really slow, big breaking ball that's really tough to stay back on just because it's a big change of pace," said Sean Rodriguez, who was held hitless. "That's what he does. He keeps finding ways to dominate, whether it's to keep guys off-balance or keep them leaning in a certain direction."

Video: ARI@PIT: Greinke strikes out Marte to end the 6th

The Pirates' pitching has taken a hit over the last 33 games as well, as their overall team ERA has inflated from 4.03 to 4.53 since May 18. Musgrove continued the downward trend on Saturday as he failed to complete five innings for the second straight start.

With two outs and Paul Goldschmidt on first base in the opening frame, David Peralta swung on the first pitch he saw and roped a triple down the first-base line. Rodriguez made an errant throw trying to nab Goldschmidt at home that allowed Peralta to score and put Musgrove in an early hole.

"Overall, my fastball command was borderline embarrassing tonight," Musgrove said. "Everything I threw was up in the zone, above the belt, leaking over the middle. I wasn't able to stay over the edges very well. So, that doesn't provide you for a very good day."

Musgrove missed the strike zone with a pair of four-seam fastballs while pitching to Goldschmidt in the third inning, ultimately leading to a five-pitch walk. He then allowed a single to Jake Lamb, before leaving a 92.5 mph four-seamer at the top of the zone for Peralta, who connected on it for an RBI double to right. Two batters later, Chris Owings singled to center field to score Lamb.

Video: ARI@PIT: Owings plates Lamb with single off the wall

In the fourth inning, Greinke bested Musgrove at the plate by lacing a double to left field and scoring on a Jon Jay double in the ensuing at-bat.

Video: ARI@PIT: Jay pulls an RBI double down the line

Musgrove was removed following the 56-minute rain delay in the middle of the fourth inning, making way for right-hander Richard Rodriguez. Rodriguez -- who was making his second appearance since being activated from the disabled list on Monday -- pitched three innings, striking out five while allowing just one hit, a Goldschmidt homer that led off the seventh inning.

Video: ARI@PIT: Goldschmidt leads off the 7th with a homer

"He handled it extremely well, and [was] a big help for us today to give us three innings," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Rodriguez has pitched extremely well since he's been back."

Video: ARI@PIT: Rodriguez K's Jay, the side in the 6th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Not-so-smooth sailing: Musgrove issued a one-out, five-pitch walk to Goldschmidt in the first inning. After inducing a flyout from Lamb, he hung a 92.7 mph slider that Peralta smoked to right field down the first-base line. Austin Meadows corralled it in the corner and relayed it to Rodriguez, who attempted to throw Goldschmidt out at the plate from behind first base. Instead, he sailed the ball over the Pirates' dugout and allowed Peralta to come home to score.

Video: ARI@PIT: Peralta rips an RBI triple, scores on error

"The ball was somewhat wet," Rodriguez said. "My hand was probably more wet than anything, just from standing around. I tried to almost palmball it, but I didn't even get my fingers over the top and just pushed it. It just took off."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Trailing by four runs in the third inning, the Pirates faced Jeff Mathis with two outs and the bases loaded. Mathis connected on a 1-1 pitch and popped a ball up to shallow left field that appeared as though it might drop in for a multi-run bloop single. However, left fielder Corey Dickerson ran in and made a sliding grab to end the inning and prevent any further damage.

Video: ARI@PIT: Dickerson makes a sliding grab in left

HE SAID IT
"Just inconsistent execution across the board. Continuing to stay on a roll to execute a large number of pitches in a row. Any time he made a mistake, they hit it. That was the story for him out there today." -- Hurdle, on Musgrove's start

UP NEXT
Right-hander Trevor Williams will get the start as the Pirates wrap up a four-game series with the D-backs at PNC Park on Sunday. Williams was brilliant last time out against the Brewers, striking out seven while allowing just one hit over seven scoreless innings. Clay Buchholz will start for the D-backs at 1:35 p.m. ET.

Mason Wittner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Pirates