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Pirates' bats go quiet against Giants sensation

MLB.com @adamdberry

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before Sunday's series finale at AT&T Park, manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates would have to string together hits to beat Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez. Big swings wouldn't accomplish much.

The Pirates followed the game plan in the second inning, scoring the game's first run on a pair of doubles by Josh Bell and Elias Diaz, but Rodriguez didn't let the Bucs start another rally. The rookie right-hander allowed only one walk after the second inning, shutting down a hot Pittsburgh lineup and dealing the Pirates a 4-3 defeat.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Before Sunday's series finale at AT&T Park, manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates would have to string together hits to beat Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez. Big swings wouldn't accomplish much.

The Pirates followed the game plan in the second inning, scoring the game's first run on a pair of doubles by Josh Bell and Elias Diaz, but Rodriguez didn't let the Bucs start another rally. The rookie right-hander allowed only one walk after the second inning, shutting down a hot Pittsburgh lineup and dealing the Pirates a 4-3 defeat.

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The Pirates entered Sunday's game having scored 38 runs while winning four of their last five games. But Rodriguez, the son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, has allowed only five runs over his last five starts combined and eight earned runs in his last nine outings.

"I didn't think we got caught up in over-swinging at all. We were trying to square him up, hit him hard where he pitched it, and we weren't able to do a whole lot of that," Hurdle said. "We're one of those six or seven teams now to get in line. He pitched well and kept us off the plate."

Video: PIT@SF: Rodriguez sharp against Pirates

Rodriguez exited after seven innings, and the Pirates pulled within a run against San Francisco's bullpen in the eighth. Adam Frazier walked and Jordy Mercer singled against Reyes Moronta, and Starling Marte drove in both with a two-out double to right field off former teammate Tony Watson.

Video: PIT@SF: Marte drills a 2-run double to right

But that wasn't enough for the Pirates to overcome their occasionally sloppy defense and another tough-luck outing for right-hander Joe Musgrove.

Musgrove lost at Coors Field last Monday despite allowing only one earned run over seven innings. He lost again on Sunday despite striking out six, throwing 70 of his 92 pitches for strikes and permitting only two extra-base hits in six innings. His fastball velocity topped out at 96.4 mph, his second-hardest pitch of the season, and he forced the Giants to swing and miss at nine of his 30 sliders.

Video: PIT@SF: Musgrove gets Crawford swinging in the 2nd

"I thought he pitched, obviously, better than the result of giving up four runs," Hurdle said. "He's been efficient. He's been effective."

After Bell and Diaz gave the Bucs an early lead, Giants catcher Nick Hundley tied the game by lining an RBI triple off Musgrove into the right-center field gap. It was the only hit he allowed on Sunday with an exit velocity greater than 90 mph, according to Statcast™.

But the Giants took a two-run lead in the fourth with a few well-placed hits and some aggressive baserunning. Brandon Crawford knocked a one-out double to left, took third when Gorkys Hernandez hit a single off Musgrove and scored on a sacrifice fly by Joe Panik.

Steven Duggar then reached on a single that bounced away from first baseman Bell. While Musgrove questioned the call, Hernandez advanced to third base. Hundley then hit a grounder just past third baseman Colin Moran, bringing home Hernandez.

Video: PIT@SF: Hundley's RBI single scores Hernandez

"That's bad on my part. I kind of lost track of the game there. I knew he was on base, but I was almost sure that I got him at first on the tag," Musgrove said. "That's bad on my part there, not staying locked in on the game and knowing the runner's on base, and it ended up hurting me for an extra run."

The Giants capitalized on another defensive mistake by the Pirates in the sixth. Diaz made a strong throw to second base to catch Hernandez stealing, but the ball bounced out of shortstop Mercer's glove. The Pirates immediately paid for Mercer's error as Hernandez scored on Panik's bloop single to shallow center field.

"It's not really my job to worry about that or concern myself with that. My job is to go out and pitch and get outs," Musgrove said. "Regardless of whether there's errors or tough plays behind me, I've still got to execute pitches and continue to throw the ball. I feel like I'm throwing the ball really well right now."

SOUND SMART
Sunday was Mercer's 809th Major League game and his first with multiple errors. Pittsburgh's shortstop committed a throwing error with two outs in the seventh along with his dropped catch in the sixth. 

HE SAID IT
"That's the conversation we had with Joe when he came out of the game. There's no need to change anything or really think about would've, could've, should've. He made pitches. We had two infield singles off gloves. We got two balls that are jam shots that fall in. We have a caught stealing; we don't get an out there. He pitched a heck of a ballgame." -- Hurdle, on Musgrove's tough luck

UP NEXT
After an off-day on Monday, Jameson Taillon will take the mound on Tuesday night to start the Pirates' two-game series against the Twins at Target Field. Taillon, coming off a complete game at Coors Field, is 7-4 with a 3.05 ERA over his last 13 starts. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi will start for the Twins at 8:10 p.m. ET.

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

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