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Pirates unconcerned with record 17th consecutive losing season

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, Sept. 6, 2009

Soon, the Pirates are going to make history.

Not the kind they want to make, but history nonetheless.

Heading into today's game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pirates are just one loss shy of assuring a record 17th consecutive sub-.500 season. They most likely will hit loss No. 82 for the season at home, with a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs starting Monday.

But if being on the roster when the team officially becomes the biggest loser in professional sports history is weighing on the minds of the players, Garrett Jones isn't letting on.

"We're not really thinking about it too much, I don't think," Jones said. "Everybody's just trying to take it one day at a time and just concentrate on what we have to do that day to win and just go from there. Hopefully, if we do that, the numbers will be better at the end of the season."

Last season, the Pirates tied the Philadelphia Phillies for the longest losing streak in the four major sports. The Phillies set the record from 1933-48. Only five pro sports teams in history have had 15 consecutive losing seasons.

But Andrew McCutchen, who was called up to the Pirates on June 3 after Nate McLouth was traded, said it's not a topic of conversation, in part because so many players on the team are so new.

"I wasn't a part of those (last) 16 years," McCutchen said. "I'm a part of this year and what we're trying to do and accomplish this year. We've made a lot of changes. Things are going to work out for us. We're a young team, and hopefully we can stay together in the years to come."

Pujols, Holliday sit

First baseman Albert Pujols and outfielder Matt Holliday were not in the starting lineup Saturday. Satcher Yadier Molina, shortstop Brendan Ryan and third baseman Mark DeRosa, who had a recurrence of a back problem, also rested. Holliday had two hits and a home run Friday against the Pirates, and Pujols homered and had three RBI in the 14-7 Cardinals victory.

Troy Glaus made his first start of the season at first base after coming off the DL on Tuesday, where he'd spent the entire season after offseason shoulder surgery.

Alvarez honored

Pedro Alvarez became the Pirates' first prospect to be named the Eastern League Player of the Month in more than two years. The third baseman was given the honor for August after batting .368 (39 for 106) with nine doubles, seven home runs, 21 runs scored, 20 RBI, 24 walks, one steal and a .651 slugging percentage with the Altoona Curve. Steve Pearce was the last Pirates' prospect to be named player of the month, doing it in June 2007.


"He's come a long, long way. ... As the season's progressed he's gained a tremendous amount of confidence, and I think now at third base he feels like there's not a play he can't make. He's actually wanting the ball hit to him and that's what you want your infielders to have, that they want the ball hit to them because they feel confident that they can make the play." — Manager John Russell, on third baseman Andy LaRoche.

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