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Saturday July 26 2014
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Pirates Offense Struggles in 2-0 Loss to Cleveland

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The Pirates' offense was quiet as the Cleveland Indians needed just two runs to hand the Pirates their fourth straight loss, 2-0.

The Indians shut out the Pirates 2-0 in Cleveland on Friday night in the first of a three game series between the inter-league foes. The Pirates have now lost four games in a row, their longest losing streak in two months.  

James McDonald started on the mound for the Bucs and gave up just three hits and one run while striking out five batters. He found his match with Indian’s starter Justin Masterson, who in seven innings, delivered nine strikeouts and surrendered only four hits.

After two and half scoreless innings, Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera scored off a Carlos Santana double, putting the Indians up 1-0. The Bucs attempted to respond but fell flat as Jose Tabata struck out with the bases loaded in the top of the fourth.

Pirates tried again in the sixth and seventh. Neil Walker stepped up to the plate, quickly hit a ground-rule double and was advanced to third by an Andrew McCutchen ground out. With a runner in scoring position, Casey McGehee grounded out, ending their sixth inning efforts.

Josh Harrison was at the plate in the seventh when Tabata stole second. Harrison was later sent to first after being hit with a pitch. A wild pitch advanced them both into scoring position, but Alex Presley couldn’t capitalize and flied out to left field. After three failed attempts to establish offensive rhythm, Pittsburgh still hadn’t earned a run.

In the bottom of the seventh, Presley maintained a 1-0 deficit as he gloved a Jack Hannahan low-liner and fired the ball to catcher Rob Barajas who stopped Johnny Damon from scoring.

Presley's defensive efforts were short lived as Indian’s Michael Brantley extended his league-high hitting streak to 22 games in the eighth when he singled on a line drive that sent Shin-Soo Choo to the plate for the insurance run.

Chris Perez came in the ninth to close the game for the Tribe earning the save.

Despite another solid outing from starter James McDonald, the Pirates couldn't provide him with any run support. The Bucs lacked focus and offensive consistency. The Pirates left many tying and leading runs stranded after many ample opportunities to drive them in.

The Indians have now won 10 of the last 13 games played between the two clubs on their home turf. The Bucs are now 5-5 against the AL this year.

On Deck:

The Bucs will attempt to rebound from a four game losing streak in the second game of the series at Progressive Field on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. A.J. Burnett (6-2, 3.61 ERA) will start on the mound for the Buccos. Burnett carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his last outing. The Tribe will send Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4, 4.91 ERA) to the mound.

I was in a minor league press box in Charlotte, NC, last month, taking in one of Gregory Polanco’s final triple-A games. A colleague, upon learning I was from Pittsburgh, approached me with a question.
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