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Hill roughed up in loss to Pirates

Hill roughed up in loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella said before Friday's game that his team was hitting better against left-handed pitching.

After the game, he was worried about his team's hitting, period.

The Cubs lost, 6-1, to lefty Tom Gorzelanny (14-7) and the Pirates after struggling at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. They left 10 runners on base, and ended the second and eighth innings with the bases loaded.

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"We didn't get them in," Piniella said. "I talked about the fact that we better start hitting the ball -- we'll find out. Hard to win with one run. Sooner or later, they've got to start hitting."

If the Cubs want to stay in first place in the National League Central, the hitting better come sooner rather than later. They lost for the fourth time in five games, but remained in a tie atop the division with Milwaukee after the Brewers got pummeled, 11-4, by Cincinnati.

Starter Rich Hill (8-8) gave up six runs on nine hits over six innings against the Pirates. As has been the case all season, he had little run support from the Cubs offense. Entering Friday's game, Hill received an average of 3.30 runs per game from his offense, lowest in the Major Leagues. But in his eyes, that was not why the Cubs lost.

"There's no excuse, I didn't pitch well," Hill said. "That's the reason why we lost, not because of run support or anything like that. I'm not concerned about it. I'm looking forward to the next outing already."

The offense needs to get going before then, though. On Friday, the Cubs' only run came in the seventh, when they were already trailing by six runs. Geovany Soto doubled with one out and scored one batter later on pinch-hitter Ronny Cedeno's double.

Soto and Derrek Lee were both 2-for-4 on Friday, and that was it for the offense, which again had no answer for Gorzelanny. The Pirates' lefty grew up a White Sox fan on the South Side of Chicago, and has been a Cub killer the majority of times he's faced them. Gorzelanny gave up six hits over seven innings Friday, and is now 2-1 with a 0.82 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs.

"I was trying to attack guys and make pitches," Gorzelanny said. "I was just trying to get them to swing at things. Fortunately I was able to do that and some pitches were working. My sinker was working today, and in the right situation I made the right pitches."

The Cubs are now 15-22 against left-handed pitching this season.

The Pirates offense jumped on Hill early and often to give Gorzelanny more than enough support. Nyjer Morgan doubled to lead off the first and scored on Freddy Sanchez's sacrifice fly. In the second, Steve Pearce singled and advanced to second after Mark DeRosa threw the ball into the dugout trying to get Pearce at first. Ronny Paulino then hit an RBI single and scored from first on Jack Wilson's double to make it 3-0.

The Bucs increased their lead to 4-0 in the fourth on Adam LaRoche's RBI double, and added a two-run homer off the bat of Wilson in the sixth to make it 6-0.

For the Cubs, offense wasn't the only problem Friday. Aramis Ramirez singled off Gorzelanny's shoe with two outs in the third, but Lee, who had reached on a single, was tagged out after overrunning second on the play. In the field, DeRosa and Ryan Theriot both made errors, and Alfonso Soriano misplayed another ball in left field.

"Lately we've been getting a little sloppy defensively, that's something that hasn't happened," Piniella said. "I don't know if we're trying to overdo it or what, but come out [Saturday], try it again."

Marc Zarefsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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