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Early errors doom Pirates

| Monday, June 25, 2012, 10:20 p.m.
Pittsburgh Pirates' Jeff Karstens throws a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, June 25, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley, left, greets Jimmy Rollins after he scored a run against the Pirates in the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, June 25, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Philadelphia Phillies' Hunter Pence (3) slides past Pittsburgh Pirates' Rod Barajas for a run in the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, June 25, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Pittsburgh Pirates' Jose Tabata, right, runs past Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins after hitting a solo home run in the third inning of a baseball game, Monday, June 25, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Philadelphia Phillies' Joe Blanton throws a pitch against the Pirates in the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, June 25, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

PHILADELPHIA – Three errors and four runs in the first inning marred Jeff Karstens' return to the rotation in the Pirates' series opener against the Phillies Monday at Citizens Bank Park.

The right-hander gave up seven runs, six earned, on 11 hits in five innings in the 8-3 loss, his first game since April 17, when he left after just one inning with right shoulder inflammation.

“They hit some balls soft for hits. I made some bad pitches; they hit those even harder,” Karstens said. “It was just one of those nights. Unfortunately for me, I dug us a pretty deep hole, and every time we scored I wasn't able to put a zero back on the board. That was the biggest defeat I had tonight, not so much the first inning but later in the game when the guys were still battling and playing hard behind me.”

Jose Tabata was 1 for 4 with a home run, Pedro Alvarez was 2 for 4 and Andrew McCutchen was 1 for 4 with an RBI. Phillies' right-hander Joe Blanton (7-6) gave up three runs, two earned, on seven hits and struck out eight.

Karstens' fourth pitch of the game turned into a double to right field by Rollins. Juan Pierre was out on a sacrifice bunt, moving Rollins to third, and little after that was straightforward in the Pirates' first three-error inning since July 4, 2011, against Houston.

Hunter Pence hit a bloop to right field that dropped roughly 10 yards in front of Tabata. He grabbed it off the bounce and threw home but not in time to beat Rollins. Catcher Rod Barajas was injured on the play but remained in for the remainder of the inning. He was replaced by Michael McKenry in the second.

Barajas suffered a bone bruise to his left knee and is day-to-day. He said that X-rays were negative and the knee is stable.

“When (Rollins) slid by, I put my foot out and he caught the bottom of my foot,” Barajas said. “I'm assuming he caught the bottom of my foot and just pushed the knee back. It was kind of a fluke thing.”

After Rollins made it 1-0, Carlos Ruiz singled to right field. Tabata threw to third base trying to get Pence but pulled Alvarez off the bag. With Ruiz going to second, Alvarez made a throw that was high and sailed into right field, receiving the first error of the inning. Tabata was charged with two more errors and the Phillies had four runs on the board before Karstens struck out Ty Wigginton and Mike Fontenot to end the inning.

“We didn't defend the ball very well in the first inning which kind of complicated things as well,” Hurdle said. “The ‘towards' button was off, meaning towards where we were supposed to throw it. That wasn't working very well. … You're going to play these kinds of games during the season. It wasn't our night.”

Karen Price can be reached at kprice@tribweb.com.

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