Pirates’ losing streak hits 4 in a row in blowout loss to Cardinals
Jordan Lyles chose his words carefully, but in the end, there was only one way to say it.
“I didn’t do my team any service,” said Lyles, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ starting pitcher Wednesday night in a 14-8 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I stunk it up.”
The result was the Pirates’ 10th loss in the past 12 games and fourth in a row.
What was left of a PNC Park crowd of 18,675 felt obligated to cheer when the previously dormant Pirates bats came alive and scored eight runs on 11 hits. But on this night, a nice offensive effort was woefully short because the pitchers were so bad.
At least, two of them.
Down 13-4, manager Clint Hurdle used position players Jose Osuna and Jacob Stallings to pitch the final three innings in an attempt to keep his bullpen fresh. The Cardinals scored only one run against them – Paul DeJong’s third homer of the night — and Lyles was compelled to again state the obvious.
“They pitched a lot better than half the actual pitchers,” he said.
Lyles has been a puzzle most of the season. In his first eight starts, he was 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA. In his past eight, he’s 1-6 with a 9.57 ERA.
He was in command for 5 2/3 innings last Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies (one run, seven hits, seven strikeouts). But he didn’t make it out of the first inning in the outing before that against the Chicago Cubs (seven runs, four hits, four walks).
He didn’t survive the second inning Wednesday when the Cardinals tied a major-league record by belting eight extra-base hits, a feat duplicated only four other times in baseball history. The Cardinals collected five of their six doubles and three of their five home runs before the inning ended.
In 1 2/3 innings, Lyles gave up eight runs (five earned) and seven hits. His immediate relief, rookie Luis Escobar, learned a hard lesson, allowing five runs, five hits and four walks in two innings. While Escobar was otherwise occupied, Cardinals base runner Yairo Munoz stole second and third bases without a throw.
Escobar, 23, was making only his fourth major-league appearance. He can be excused. Lyles, 28, is in his ninth big-league season.
“Things snowballed,” he said. “That’s been a problem in my career. One inning here or there snowballs. I stood up here two starts ago, saying the same thing. Obviously, I need to figure it out.”
Earlier in the day, Lyles’ name came up in trade speculation, but he said that did not alter his focus for the game.
“Not with the last handful of weeks,” he said. “I got way too many other things on my shoulders. If that day is here and it comes, it happens.
”Until then, I got more things to worry about being a major-league pitcher, getting major-league hitters out.”
Hurdle said the next step is discovering the problem.
“We’ll sit down and look at some tape and get some feedback from him and see where we need to go next,” he said. “We’ll see. We’ll definitely hunt it down.”
Hurdle was left to seek little victories, such as Melky Cabrera tracking down a fly ball by Kolten Wong in the ninth inning that appeared to be headed for the right-field wall and extra bases. And the Pirates scoring two runs each in the seventh and ninth. Corey Dickerson finished 2-for-3 with two doubles and Starling Marte was 4-for-5 with three doubles.
The Pirates ended up with as many doubles (six) as the Cardinals.
“We’ve been dealt a lot different stuff,” Hurdle said. “These last two weeks have been hard. There is no other way around it.
“Leading into that, everything was trending up. A lot of positive narrative, a lot of good things going on.
“A lot of that shifted in two weeks, although the main focus hasn’t shifted
“They’re playing ball. They’re trying to honor the name on the front and take care of the name on the back.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .