Offense, Correia struggle in loss to Orioles

Offense, Correia struggle in loss to Orioles

Offense, Correia struggle in loss to Orioles
BALTIMORE -- For the second consecutive night, the Pirates looked nothing like the team that had been surging to one of its best streaks in the last 20 years.

Starter Kevin Correia struggled and the offense could not capitalize on its opportunities in a 7-1 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday in the second game of a three-game Interleague series.

The Pirates have lost consecutive games for the first time since May 22-23, snapping a streak of five series wins that was the longest since 1992. In the process they've fallen two games behind the Reds in the National League Central.

"You're not going to be hot 100 percent of the time all year," designated hitter Garrett Jones said. "It's just a matter of getting by and making adjustments and not letting the bad games pile up."

Correia allowed five runs on 10 hits in six innings, with only one strikeout against an Orioles squad that entered Wednesday tops in baseball, with 513.

When Correia has been successful this season, he's done it by retiring hitters quickly and forcing ground balls. He did neither very often on Wednesday, as struggles with command forced him to work deep into counts.

"There was really no speed separation of pitches, and I think that's when you saw him missing locations," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He used two different changeups later in the game that became more effective to him. It wasn't the outing he wanted, but I think there's some positives to pull from it for him."

In the first inning, J.J. Hardy lined a single to left and scored when Chris Davis hit a double off the top of the left-field wall.

In the second, Mark Reynolds led off with a single, Wilson Betemit drilled a double to the gap in right-center to plate Reynolds, and former Pirate Steve Pearce hit a single up the middle to score Betemit.

"They hit me early, and I think I kind of started trying to make my stuff better than it was for an inning or two," Correia said. "Then settled down, but it's a good-hitting ballclub. I was pretty happy with the way I threw the ball."

The Orioles tacked on another in the fourth. Reynolds hit a grounder sharply down the third-base line that skipped through Alex Presley's legs, and Reynolds took third. He then scored on a sacrifice fly from Betemit.

Betemit again struck in the sixth, smacking a towering home run over the wall in right on a hanging curveball to make the score 5-0.

"You really lean on the advance report," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of facing Correia. "In today's game there are no secrets with tape, but there's no substitute for getting in there and seeing it."

Correia's night easily could have been much worse, as the Orioles went just 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position against him.

Reliever Tony Watson didn't fare much better. He came on in the sixth and gave up a leadoff single to Hardy, who scored when Davis muscled a broken-bat home run just over the right-field fence.

The struggles of the pitching staff were mirrored by those of the offense, which couldn't get anything going against Orioles starter Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta, a last-second replacement who had recently been demoted to the bullpen after struggling through the early part of 2012, posting a 6.32 ERA with a Major League-worst eight losses, but he matched a career high with nine strikeouts in seven innings of one-run ball.

"You see why they like the arm," Hurdle said. "He was very effective tonight, and we weren't able to muster a whole lot of offense against him."

The Pirates knew what to expect from Arrieta after facing him in Spring Training -- they just couldn't hit it.

Arrieta had all of his pitches working, from the live, sinking fastball to the looping 12-to-6 curve.

"His curveball was working very well tonight," Jones said. "He was throwing it right out of the zone, down. He's just got so much movement on it that it's hard to lay off."

Even so, the Pirates had ample chances to score but could not cash in, finishing 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

After Casey McGehee led off the second inning with a double, Arrieta struck out the rest of the side in order.

In the fourth, Jones and McGehee hit consecutive singles with one out before Pedro Alvarez grounded into a fielder's choice. After Jose Tabata walked to load the bases, Clint Barmes grounded out to shortstop.

"We had been hitting the ball well, and then tonight, not getting the job done, it's frustrating," Jones said.

In the fifth, Presley hit a one-out double, but Arrieta followed by striking out Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen to end the threat.

The Pirates had their best chance to mount a rally in the seventh but came away with only one run. With the bases loaded and one out, Walker grounded out to first to score Tabata, but McCutchen grounded out to third to end the frame.

Even in the ninth the Pirates had a chance to cut into the deficit, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. But Michael McKenry struck out, Presley flew out and Walker grounded out to end the game and clinch the series loss.

"They've outplayed us back-to-back nights, so it shouldn't be any surprise to anybody here that we're down two," Hurdle said. "We've got a chance to go up and win the game tomorrow. That's what I'm looking for."

Greg Luca is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.