Pirates’ Jordan Lyles struggles in 11-2 loss to Diamondbacks
The Pittsburgh Pirates thrived on strong starting pitching through the first 21 games of the season, even landing in first place for a spell because of it.
But when Jordan Lyles failed in a rough five-inning outing, the bats continued to struggle and the bullpen made things worse, the Pirates (12-10) had nowhere to turn Wednesday night in front of a crowd of 9,450.
The result was an 11-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Pirates’ fourth consecutive setback. Arizona rapped out 15 hits, eight of them for extra bases, including two home runs by Ketel Marte and another from Nick Ahmed.
“There isn’t much room in their lineup to take a breath,” said Lyles, who gave up eight hits and five runs (only four earned because of his throwing error in the first inning). “It’s what good offenses do.”
Lyles had been hard to hit over his first 17 innings as a Pirate – he signed as a free agent in the off-season – but this game marked only the fourth time a Pirates starter allowed four or more runs. On one of those occasions, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, all six runs against Jameson Taillon were unearned.
“When pitches were elevated, they didn’t miss,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Overall, some inconsistent execution. I’m looking forward to looking at the videotape.”
Lyles is eager to make amends next week against the Texas Rangers.
“Sour taste, it will be sour tomorrow as well,” he said. “Once the bullpen session comes around (prior to the start), it’s time to move forward.”
The Diamondbacks also had no problem scoring against Pirates relief pitchers Nick Kingham and Steven Brault, both of whom competed against Lyles in spring training for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Arizona scored three runs in the seventh against Kingham, who allowed a walk and long doubles by David Peralta and Christian Walker.
Marte added a three-run homer against Brault in the eighth. It was Brault’s first appearance since giving up four hits and four runs April 8 against the Cubs at Wrigley.
Arizona (14-11) has won nine games in a row at PNC Park, including the first three of this series in which they scored a total of 25 runs. In the past seven games, the Pirates have scored only 19. Their only runs Wednesday were solo homers by Jung Ho Kang and Josh Bell.
Hurdle said he expects his team to start hitting. Right now, he’s playing an all-reserve outfield, thanks to injuries to Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson and Gregory Polanco. The first two remain on the injured list; Polanco came off Monday after off-season shoulder surgery. He was given a day of rest Wednesday.
Meanwhile, catcher Francisco Cervelli and Kang are hitting .167.
“We’ve got some guys we’re counting on to provide some offense,” Hurdle said. “You’ve got Cervelli, who’s shown offensive capabilities. You’ve got Kang showing offensive capabilities. Hopefully, there was a tick up (by Kang on Wednesday, with a home run and double).
Bell has been the most consistently productive hitter, with a .299 average, five home runs and 17 RBI.
“Bell‘s obviously in a good spot swinging the bat, but we could use some help from a couple other guys, for sure,” Hurdle said.
The Pirates were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, 1 for 18 in the past two games.
“They’re getting opportunities to hit,” Hurdle said. “We’re going to get better at it.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .