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Pirates bullpen drops chance at series sweep in late loss to Marlins

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Sunday, June 15, 2014, 4:48 p.m.
 

MIAMI — The bullpen breakdowns have become chronic for the Pirates, and so to have Pedro Alvarez's throwing issues.

An errant Alvarez throw contributed to the Pirates' major league-worst 13th blown save opportunity Sunday and a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Marlins. The defeat kept the Pirates from sweeping the Marlins and rising above .500 for the first time since April 14.

Having already made one throwing error in the game, his MLB-worst 15th of the season, Alvarez could have been given another error when he one-hopped a throw to allow Jeff Baker to reach to begin the eighth. It was the first hit Pirates reliever Tony Watson had allowed in 8 23 innings.

“We've encouraged him not to worry, to work,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Alvarez. “There's a number of (poor throws). They've been high. They've been low. (Fortunate) scoring today that we ended up with one error in the game.

“He has to continue to work through it. … He's doing a number of different things. Part of it is drill work, part of it is repetition.”

Even the consistent Watson is not immune to the blown save. Furcal followed Baker with a soft single in the eighth, and two batters later Casey McGehee's two-out, two-run double tied the score at 2-2.

In the 10th, McGehee hit a sacrifice fly off Jared Hughes to score Ed Lucas for a walk-off win. The Pirates bullpen allowed 10 runs in 11 innings and blew two saves in the series.

“I don't see any common thread,” Hurdle said of the bullpen. “(Sunday) we didn't defend the first play of the inning (then) a slow ground ball rolls through, then a guy hits a ball in the gap.”

The Pirates squandered a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the 10th when Russell Martin grounded into a double play and Clint Barmes struck out.

The blown save prevented Vance Worley from picking up a win in his first start as a Pirate.

Worley arrived in Miami in possession of the unusual athletic glasses with which he pitches, and a distinctive nickname — “Vanimal” — that speaks to his aggressive mound temperament. Worley wears the glasses because he cannot use contact lenses. He received the nickname from his college strength coach, who praised his work ethic.

Beyond those attributes, the Pirates weren't sure what they were getting with Worley when they acquired the 26-year-old right-hander from the Twins for cash considerations in late March.

What the Pirates might have received is much-needed pitching depth. Worley tossed seven scoreless innings Sunday, showing excellent command of his fastball and cutter filling in for injured starter Francisco Liriano.

Worley allowed five hits, struck out five and did not walk a batter.

“I told Vance he's a perfect Pirate already. He's had some success, and he's been beat up,” Hurdle said. “He pounded the zone. The tempo and the pace was really good.”

Worley was available after he posted a 7.20 ERA with Minnesota last season. Worley said he was not healthy entering last season. He had bone chips removed from his elbow at the end of last season with the Phillies and then developed biceps tendinitis in spring training. Worley said he is healthy and credited organizational pitching guru Jim Benedict for fixing flaws in his mechanics this spring.

“I've come a long way,” Worley said. “We nitpicked with the mechanics and mentality, and we just kind of got things back on track.”

Rookie Gregory Polanco had two more hits – both infield singles – as he pushed his hit total to 12 in his first six major league games.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

AP - The Pirates' Gregory Polanco slides safely into home as Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis is late on the tag in the third inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Gregory Polanco slides safely into home as Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis is late on the tag in the third inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
Getty Images - The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez throws to first for an out during the second inning against the Marlins on Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez throws to first for an out during the second inning against the Marlins on Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
AP - Miami Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis, left, prepares to throw to first base after forcing out Pittsburgh Pirates' Starling Marte, right, at home plate in the 10th inning of a baseball game in Miami, Sunday, June 15, 2014. Pirates' Russell Martin was out at first base to complete the double play. The Marlins won 3-2.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Miami Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis, left, prepares to throw to first base after forcing out Pittsburgh Pirates' Starling Marte, right, at home plate in the 10th inning of a baseball game in Miami, Sunday, June 15, 2014. Pirates' Russell Martin was out at first base to complete the double play. The Marlins won 3-2.
AP - Miami Marlins' Casey McGehee, second from right, is mobbed by teammates after driving in the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 10th inning of a baseball game in Miami, Sunday, June 15, 2014. The Marlins won 3-2.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Miami Marlins' Casey McGehee, second from right, is mobbed by teammates after driving in the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 10th inning of a baseball game in Miami, Sunday, June 15, 2014. The Marlins won 3-2.
Getty Images - The Marlins' Casey McGehee signals for Ed Lucas (not pictured) to advance to third base on a passed ball by the Pirates' Russell Martin during the 10th inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Marlins' Casey McGehee signals for Ed Lucas (not pictured) to advance to third base on a passed ball by the Pirates' Russell Martin during the 10th inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
Getty Images - Rafael Furcal #15 of the Miami Marlins reacts to an injury sustained during the tenth inning of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Marlins Park on June 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Rafael Furcal #15 of the Miami Marlins reacts to an injury sustained during the tenth inning of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Marlins Park on June 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
Getty Images - The Pirates' Jordy Mercer turns a double play over the Marlins' Garrett Jones during the fourth inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Pirates' Jordy Mercer turns a double play over the Marlins' Garrett Jones during the fourth inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
AP - Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) talks to catcher Russell Martin (55) in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Miami, Sunday, June 15, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) talks to catcher Russell Martin (55) in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Miami, Sunday, June 15, 2014.
Getty Images - The Marlins' Adeiny Hechavarria turns a double play over the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen during the third inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Marlins' Adeiny Hechavarria turns a double play over the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen during the third inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
Getty Images - Russell Martin #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates catches a fly ball to end the sixth inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Russell Martin #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates catches a fly ball to end the sixth inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
Getty Images - Pirates pitcher Vance Worley delivers during the first inning against the Marlins on Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami. The right-hander won a hefty raise on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 when a salary arbitration board sided with him in his case against the Pirates.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates pitcher Vance Worley delivers during the first inning against the Marlins on Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.  The right-hander won a hefty raise on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 when a salary arbitration board sided with him in his case against the Pirates.
AP - Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer throws to first after forcing out the Marlins' Garrett Jones at second in the fourth inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer throws to first after forcing out the Marlins' Garrett Jones at second in the fourth inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
AP - The Pirates' Vance Worley bunts and reaches first on a fielder's choice against the Marlins in the fourth inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Vance Worley bunts and reaches first on a fielder's choice against the Marlins in the fourth inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
AP - The Pirates' Josh Harrison follows through on a base hit against the Marlins in the fourth inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Josh Harrison follows through on a base hit against the Marlins in the fourth inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
AP - The Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton follows through on a base hit against the Pirates in the first inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton follows through on a base hit against the Pirates in the first inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
AP - The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen follows through on a base hit against the Marlins in the first inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen follows through on a base hit against the Marlins in the first inning Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
Getty Images - Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws to first base during the eighth inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws to first base during the eighth inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
Getty Images - Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on during an at bat during the third inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on during an at bat during the third inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
AP - Pirates pitcher Vance Worley talks to catcher Russell Martin in the fourth inning against the Marlins on Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates pitcher Vance Worley talks to catcher Russell Martin in  the fourth inning against the Marlins on Sunday, June 15, 2014, in Miami.
Getty Images - MIAMI, FL - JUNE 15: Casey McGehee #9 of the Miami Marlins hits a walk off sacrifice fly to end the game in the tenth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Marlins Park on June 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>MIAMI, FL - JUNE 15: Casey McGehee #9 of the Miami Marlins hits a walk off sacrifice fly to end the game in the tenth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Marlins Park on June 15, 2014 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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