Bad spell at Busch not in Pirates' head

Bad spell at Busch not in Pirates' head

ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates face a lot of human obstacles to reach their goal of a division championship. Do they now also have a geographic opponent, Busch Stadium?

Since their last series win here on April 26-28, 2013, the Bucs have been parched under the Arch. Saturday's 2-1 loss in 11 innings was their 15th defeat in 18 games.

This isn't the first place manager Clint Hurdle's Pirates have had a difficult time winning. But whereas for years Milwaukee's Miller Park was flat-out hostile to them, Busch Stadium has been maddening, regularly dangling a carrot the Cardinals yank away at the end.

Through Saturday, their last three and five of the last eight losses here were of the walk-off variety.

"The games seem to be close here. We're always in the game. In Milwaukee, I don't think we were always in the game," Hurdle said before Saturday's game. "So it feels different ... but they're still losses. Probably five or six of those [last 14 losses] were there for us, and we didn't do the things we needed to win them.

"When that's the case, you have to honestly self-evaluate why you came up short. But is this place getting into our head? It's not in my head. We approach each game individually, but as they mount up, they can paint a picture. We fight to get in these positions [to win the game], get to the tipping point -- and aren't able to tip it in our favor."

Case in point: Friday's sixth inning. Bases loaded, none out against Lance Lynn. Josh Harrison, dropped by Hurdle into the two-hole specifically to give him more opportunities to bat with men on base, coming up.

Harrison gave Lynn a good fight, popping out at the end of an 11-pitch at-bat. Strikeouts of Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker pulled the plug.

"You can't ask for a much better position than what we were in," Hurdle said. "You can't draw it up much better. But we weren't able to finish it off."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.