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Cubs' big inning dooms Bucs in 14-4 setback

| Monday, July 30, 2012, 11:26 p.m.
The Pirates' Drew Sutton (17) reacts after striking out against the Chicago Cubs after a baseball game, Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. The Cubs won 14-4. (AP)
The Chicago Cubs' David DeJesus, rear, rounds third base as Pirates' Chris Resop (30) reacts after giving up a two-run home run to Chicago Cubs' Starlin Castro during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. (AP)
The Cubs' David DeJesus (9) congratulates Starlin Castro after Castro's two-run home run against the Pirates during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. (AP)
Pirates catcher Michael McKenry reacts as Chicago Cubs' Reed Johnson (5) and Starlin Castro (13) congratulate Anthony Rizzo after his three-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. (AP)
The Chicago Cubs' Darwin Barney celebrates after a three-run home run against the Pirates during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. (AP)
The Chicago Cubs' Darwin Barney watches his three-run home run against the Pirates during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. (AP)
The Pirates' Michael McKenry (55) drives in a run against the Chicago Cubs during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. (AP)
The Pirates' Erik Bedard pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. (AP)
The Chicago Cubs' Justin Germano pitches against the Pirates during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. (AP)
The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen watches his foul ball pop out against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, July 30, 2012, in Chicago. (AP)

CHICAGO — It was around this time last season that the roof caved in for the Pirates.

After back-to-back drubbings, including a 14-4 loss Monday against the Chicago Cubs, is it happening again?

The Pirates dropped their second in a row and remained three games behind first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central. Cracks have begun showing in all facets of the Pirates' game: pitching, hitting and defense.

Last year this week, the Pirates were in the midst of a losing skid that dropped them from first to fourth in the division. They finished with their 19th straight losing season.

“We've shut the book on last year,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “This is 2012. We continue to talk about that question, and that's fine. I get it. But, yeah, I am confident. It's a completely different team. It's constructed differently.”

That's true, but questions remain about how the Pirates will be constructed after the 4 p.m. Tuesday non-waiver trade deadline.

The Pirates traded pitcher Brad Lincoln to the Toronto Blue Jays for outfielder Travis Snider, but they continue to scour the market for hitters. They were interested in Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson, but he was dealt in the middle of the game to the Atlanta Braves in a package that included former Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm.

Although the Pirates acquired left-hander Wandy Rodriguez last week, they still have concerns about their pitching. Left-hander Erik Bedard (5-12) was drilled by the Cubs and lost for the sixth time in his past seven decisions.

Working on seven days' rest, Bedard lasted just 4 13 innings and allowed nine runs (eight earned) and seven hits.

Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo each hit a three-run homer off him.

“They hit good pitches, bad pitches,” Bedard said. “And the unfortunate thing is, they went over the fence.”

The extra down time added life to Bedard's fastball, which touched 93 mph and had good life.

“I felt really good,” Bedard said. “I guess that's the positive out of it.”

The Cubs blew it open with a nine-run fifth inning that included Rizzo's home run and Starlin Castro's two-run shot.

“It's 162 games (in a season), and we're going to take a beating from time to time,” said Hurdle, who marked his 55th birthday watching his club suffer its first double-digit loss of the year.

The Pirates were handcuffed for five innings by right-hander Justin Germano (1-1). It was his first victory in the big leagues since Aug. 28, 2007, snapping a span of 52 consecutive winless outings. The Cubs acquired Germano on July 19 from the Boston Red Sox for cash.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or 412-320-7811.

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