Big third inning lifts Marlins past Pirates
Ross Ohlendorf might be pitching his way out of the Pirates' plans for next season.
The right-hander lasted only two-plus innings Friday night in a 13-4 wipeout against the Florida Marlins at PNC Park.
The Marlins were boosted by a nine-run third inning that featured 10 hits, the most by the Marlins and most allowed by the Pirates in an inning.
The loss officially — and emphatically — eliminated the Pirates from the NL Central race. At the 100-game mark, they were in first place in the division. With 18 games to play, the Pirates (66-78) are four defeats from clinching their 19th consecutive losing season.
Ohlendorf has not won in his past 15 starts in the majors. He missed more than four months this season with a bum shoulder and has been lackluster in four outings since coming off the disabled list, putting up an 8.44 ERA and 2.38 WHIP.
"I definitely expected to pitch better," he said. "I need to pitch better."
Yesterday, he gave up six runs and 10 hits. He served up hits to seven of the final eight batters he faced.
"I can't believe he's pitching up to his capabilities with that many baserunners out there," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's pitched out of the windup a lot since he's been back. That's the challenge — to get some continuity, stay in the stretch, make pitches, put a bunch of strikes together."
The way things are going, Ohlendorf doesn't deserve to stay in the rotation. But moving him to the bullpen might not be the answer.
"We'll talk about it," Hurdle said. "He's doing everything he can."
Hurdle has watched what he called "old tape" — video from 2009 and early last season — when Ohlendorf was effective with a fastball that stayed down in the zone. But Ohlendorf has not pitched well, during the season or in spring training, when Hurdle has been in the Pirates' dugout.
There are not many positive impressions for Hurdle to consider when mapping out the Pirates' pitching staff for 2012.
"It's definitely going to come into play," Hurdle said. "We want to be fair. We want to look at the big picture. But we also want to look at results."
Ohlendorf wasn't the only pitcher who struggled last night. Six Pirates combined to allow 22 hits, just six shy of the club record.
The Marlins scored a run in each of the first two innings against Ohlendorf. They began the third with four straight hits, opening a 3-1 lead and knocking Ohlendorf (0-2) out of the game.
Reliever Daniel McCutchen yielded an RBI single by pitcher Ricky Nolasco and Emilio Bonifacio's sacrifice fly. With runners on first and second, Omar Infante hit a deep fly ball. Left fielder Alex Presley got turned around as he raced backward, then tried to make an awkward, off-balance catch. The ball caromed off his glove and went over the wall for Infante's second home run of the game.
"I had to put my head down to get back there," Presley said. "When I got (to the wall), the ball was behind me. I had to make an adjustment, and it cost me. It was a weird thing, a freak play."