CINCINNATI -- Taking the field at Great American Ball Park less than 12 hours after their flight landed in Cincinnati on Monday morning, the Pirates could have easily blamed their sloppy, error-filled loss to the Reds on the quick turnaround.
But there were no excuses to be found in the Pirates' clubhouse Monday afternoon, not for their season-high-tying four errors in the field nor for anything else that went wrong in a 3-1 defeat that allowed the Cubs to creep within two games in the National League Wild Card standings.
That was particularly true for Sean Rodriguez, whose miscues bookended the disappointing loss.
In his first start of the season at shortstop, the utility man committed an error in each of the first two innings and was picked off at first base with the tying run at the plate in the ninth.
"Those are plays that obviously have got to be made, and can and will be made," Rodriguez said. "It happens. We make errors. Physical ones are all right. Mental ones, like the one in the last inning, are the ones that aren't acceptable."
Rodriguez is no stranger to shortstop; he played there as a Minor Leaguer and during his time with the Rays, and he fields grounders there before every game.
"He's been an above-average defender. I've seen him play short," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's played short in the past. Turned out to be a rough day."
In the first inning, Rodriguez booted a grounder into left field but helped make up for it by turning a 3-6-1 double play started by an excellent throw from Pedro Alvarez.
Rodriguez led off the second with another error, misplaying Brandon Phillips' chopper up the middle. It was the first of two Pittsburgh errors in Cincinnati's three-run frame.
Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart then lofted a sacrifice fly to right field, driving in one run. Gregory Polanco settled under the ball, but his throw went up the line. Catcher Chris Stewart couldn't stop the ball, and Jeff Locke wasn't in position to back him up, so the ball bounced into the camera well as another run scored.
Alvarez committed the Pirates' final error, making an errant throw over Locke's head to lead off the sixth. It was Alvarez's 19th error of the season, tied for the most by a first baseman since Kevin Young had 23 in 1999.
With one out in the ninth, Rodriguez was hit by Aroldis Chapman. That brought Starling Marte to the plate with a chance to tie the game. But Rodriguez was caught off the bag and couldn't dive back in time, a mental mistake that bothered him more than anything that happened in the field.
"Inexcusable. No excuses," Rodriguez said. "Basically, for lack of a better word, and excuse my language, but I [messed] up."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.