MIAMI -- Tony Watson had been automatic for more than a month, coming out on the other side of an uneven start to the season as the sure thing he's been for the Pirates over the last four years.
But no pitcher can be perfect over the course of a 162-game season, as the eighth inning Wednesday night reminded once again. Watson gave up a two-out double to Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, surrendering the go-ahead run in Pittsburgh's 3-2 loss to Miami at Marlins Park.
"Watty wasn't as sharp as we've seen him here lately," manager Clint Hurdle said. "[Hechavarria] was able to string out the at-bat, fouled off some pitches and barreled one up that was up and out over the plate."
Since giving up one run on two hits over 1 2/3 innings in Colorado on April 27, Watson had been nearly untouchable. The Pirates' ace setup man faced 40 batters over 11 appearances between that outing and the start of the eighth inning Wednesday night, and only seven of them reached base.
Watson hadn't given up a hit since May 6, nearly pushing his ERA below 2.00, where it ended each of the last two seasons.
But Watson didn't appear to be his typically sharp self on Wednesday. Entering a tie game, the left-hander needed six pitches to retire Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton and seven more to strike out Chris Johnson.
"I felt great. I thought I had good stuff," Watson said. "Threw a lot of pitches, but they put some good ABs together."
That brought up second baseman Derek Dietrich, and Watson quickly got ahead, 0-2. He tried to sneak in another sinker, but didn't get his arm high enough in his delivery, and the 92-mph pitch sailed directly into Dietrich's left wrist.
"Hopefully he's all right," Watson said. "It's tough, especially two outs, two strikes, trying to put that guy away."
Dietrich left the game, replaced by pinch-runner Miguel Rojas. Watson fell behind Hechavarria, 3-0, and fired five more sinkers -- four of which Hechavarria fouled off. Hechavarria hammered the ninth pitch of the at-bat to the alley in left-center field, driving in Rojas from first base.
Watson said he wasn't distracted or thrown off by the pitch that forced Dietrich out of the game.
"I was fine. I just yanked a couple fastballs, got behind in the count," Watson said. "Didn't want to give him anything good to hit, kept challenging him and he got me."
Watson bounced back quickly, striking out Cole Gillespie to end the inning and strand Hechavarria at second base, but the Pirates couldn't pick up Watson in the ninth after his rare misstep.
"Just try to challenge them, keep challenging them, keep challenging them, and he won," Watson said. "Tip your hat and get after them tomorrow."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.