Worley, defense off in loss to Phillies

Righty tosses only four innings, but manager Hurdle says 'overall game needs to tighten up'

Worley, defense off in loss to Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pirates played one of their "dirtiest" games of the season on Thursday, when some messy fielding contributed to the 4-2 loss to the Phillies.

And Vance Worley had another erratic start.

The right-hander thought the two developments were related, one leading to the other.

"When you're out there struggling to throw strikes, your defense gets flat-footed. I didn't help," said Worley, charged with only one earned run among the three he allowed in four innings.

A short outing, indeed. In fact. the shortest of the 23 starts he has made for the Bucs the last two seasons.

Another troubling matter: For the second straight start, Worley did not notch a strikeout. In Worley's 85 prior Major League games, he had only one without a whiff (on Aug. 1, 2012).

"The last two outings, the swing-and-miss isn't there the way we've seen it," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's just missing his spots. The execution of pitches isn't what we've seen in the past."

Worley needed 81 pitches in the four innings -- and only 46 of them were strikes.

"If anything, my deception is a little off because I'm not locating as well," Worley said. "When I'm getting pitches where I need to, they have to be able to protect both sides of the plate. Right now, they're taking a lot of pitches that miss, then I have to throw something over the plate."

The first inning offered a capsule demonstration of that dynamic: Cesar Hernandez walked on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded for a run; Grady Sizemore jumped on a centered changeup on the very next pitch to single up the middle and make it 2-0.

Hernandez's RBI walk

Two innings later, a couple misplays -- Pedro Alvarez's mental error on a grounder to second and Jordy Mercer's physical error on another grounder -- gave the Phillies the eventual winning run.

Galvis scores on fielding error

"It's not all on Worley," Hurdle said. "But he was a click off, and we seem to be a click off with the glove when he's pitching.

"Our overall game needs to tighten up. We're hovering around .500 for a reason," added Hurdle, whose Bucs slid back under at 17-18 with Thursday's loss.

Touching all the bases

• First: Lefty Antonio Bastardo, who missed the entire series against his former team while on paternity leave, is expected to rejoin the Pirates on Friday in Chicago.

• Second: Jameson Taillon made 11 pitches in one inning in extended spring camp on Thursday, his first "game" action since last year's Tommy John surgery.

• Third: Two "displaced" players -- Josh Harrison in left and Starling Marte in center -- both went 3-for-4, leaving Hurdle to say, "We gotta get some guys to play along with them."

• Home: The Bucs lost consecutive games to the Phillies for the first time since June 25-26, 2012.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.