PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates will attempt to bounce back from a tough loss to the Cincinnati Reds when they meet again Saturday at PNC Park.
The Reds (58-82) ended their five-game losing streak by defeating the Pirates 4-3 on Friday. Pittsburgh (69-70) remains in National League Wild Card contention, but cannot afford to allow many more games to slip away in the fashion they did Friday.
The Pirates wasted two lead-off doubles by Gregory Polanco early in their loss, left the bases loaded in the ninth inning and allowed Reds starter Tim Adleman to go 2-for-2 with an RBI.
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Brandon Phillips sent his 10th home run of the season into the left field bleachers while Pittsburgh struggled to get anything going offensively.
Following Pittsburgh's loss Friday, manager Clint Hurdle expressed frustration with its lack of offensive execution.
“We hit into four doubles plays and that was problematic, which is an understatement,” Hurdle said. “We had a chance to move runners, score runners from third with less than two outs and we didn't get down. We're having problems scoring runs. It's not a secret. I don't think the execution level matches the talent level right now. We need to be better.”
Although they had won two straight games entering Friday, the Pirates have lost nine of their last 11 games.
Drew Hutchison will try to help Pittsburgh avoid another slide when he makes his first start for the Pirates on Saturday.
Hutchison, who went 1-0 with a 4.97 ERA with the Toronto Blue Jays this season, is set to fill in for Chad Kuhl, who lasted just two innings and surrendered three runs on four hits when he last appeared against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday.
Pittsburgh recalled Hutchison and Tyler Glasnow from Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday. In 24 starts with Indianapolis, Hutchison has gone 7-6 with a 3.59 ERA.
While Hutchison will look to keep Pittsburgh in the Wild Card hunt, Robert Stephenson (2-1, 3.12) will try to provide a significant roadblock on the Pirates' path to the playoffs.
Despite allowing just two runs in 5 1/3 innings pitched, Stephenson suffered his first major league loss in his third start Monday, falling 5-0 to the New York Mets.
Stephenson won each of his previous two starts earlier this season by surrendering a combined four runs in 12 innings pitched against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 7 and Colorado Rockies on April 19.
After his second start, Stephenson was optioned back to Triple-A Louisville.
Stephenson will take the mound with a confident group coming off a hard-fought win Friday.
“It just shows you that we don't give up,” Phillips said. “We try to win every game. We're in a lot of games, but we just don't finish. But today, we go to finish and it really shows that we have a heart.
“We're not giving up. Even though we know we're not going to do anything this year, it's still just in our heads that you just want to finish strong and go out there, play the game and try to get as many wins as possible.”