Pirates drop 2nd straight game against Rockies

Travis Sawchik
| Saturday, July 26, 2014, 11:12 p.m.

DENVER — In two games on the High Plains, the Pirates pitchers have made Coors Field look like Coors Field. The Pirates bats have made the venue seem far more humid and closer to sea level.

After a second consecutive 8-1 loss to the Rockies, the Pirates on Saturday looked like a team that perhaps could use upgrading before the trade deadline. The Pirates have been drubbed in back-to-back games by a team that is fighting with the Chicago Cubs for the National League's worst record.

Though the Pirates entered the series leading the league in on-base percentage, the Pirates hit Friday and Saturday like a club that could use another bat. After the Pirates accounted for just two hits in 6 13 innings against Brett Anderson on Friday, Rockies rookie Tyler Matzek allowed just three hits over seven scoreless innings Saturday.

“We've seen five quality starts in a row from their staff,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Watch the pitches they are making … I've probably watched over 730 games here, so I've seen it all. The game demands execution, and right now that hasn't been part of what we have been able to do here.”

Perhaps the Pirates could use another right-handed bat. They have fallen to 9-9 this season against left-handed pitchers. Or perhaps the Pirates aren't comfortable facing left-handed pitching because the National League Central is so right-handed dominant.

Or perhaps the Pirates just miss the sidelined Starling Marte against lefties. It doesn't help that Gregory Polanco continues to struggle against southpaws, and Brent Morel is getting starts instead of Pedro Alvarez at third base against lefties.

Matzek didn't make many mistakes, and those he did make stayed in the park. Pirates first baseman Gaby Sanchez threw his bat in disgust as he just got under a Matzek hanging slider, flying out to center to end the sixth.

“They were throwing their pitches where they wanted to,” Sanchez said. “They were coming in to go soft away. They were changing it up, throwing different things in different counts.”

The Pirates were shut out until Ike Davis' pinch-hit homer in the ninth.

The Pirates have starting pitching depth, but published reports have had them in search of upgrades to their rotation and bullpen. Coors Field is a difficult environment to judge any pitcher, but Jeff Locke didn't make a strong case for the Pirates to sit tight in his last start before the trade deadline.

Locke attacked the strike zone, but he left too many pitches elevated over the plate. Locke allowed three home runs.

In the third, Josh Rutledge served a Locke changeup into center that caught too much plate to score Charlie Blackmon. In the fourth, Drew Stubbs smashed a 93 mph Locke fastball into the left-field seats for a home run. The Rockies strung together three hits in the fifth to produce two runs and take a 4-0 lead.

In the seventh, Nolan Arenado smashed an elevated Locke fastball into the left field seats. Corey Dickerson lifted a Locke curveball into the right field seats to give the Rockies a 6-0 lead.

Locke allowed six runs, 10 hits, walked three and struck out six in 6 23 innings.

“I was not 100 percent sharp,” Locke said. “If they could pitch like they hit, they wouldn't be 15 and a half (games) back.”

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

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