Zambrano, defense struggle as Marlins fall to Bucs

Zambrano, defense struggle as Marlins fall to Bucs

Zambrano, defense struggle as Marlins fall to Bucs
PITTSBURGH -- How rough have things become for the Marlins?

Following Saturday night's 5-1 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park -- Miami's fourth straight defeat -- a frustrated Ozzie Guillen said he was embarrased by how he and his team are performing right now.

"I feel bad for the people who put this team together. I do feel bad. I feel embarrassed," Guillen said. "We can ask a lot of questions, like 'What happened?' [or] 'What's wrong?' Well, everything is wrong, starting with me. Coaches, myself, offense, defense -- everything is so bad right now."

Saturday's defeat was sealed in the fourth inning, when, in a tie game, Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano hit two batters and issued three walks, the last of which came with the bases loaded and brought about his departure. Without registering a hit, the Pirates scored four runs in the frame en route to their fourth straight win.

Zambrano (5-8) lasted just 3 1/3 innings against the Pirates, giving up five runs -- four earned -- on three hits. He issued a whopping six walks while recording only two strikeouts. He also hit a couple batters. Zambrano threw 97 pitches, 48 of which were strikes.

"We lost, and every time we [lose], it's bad," Zambrano said. "I'm not pitching the way I'm supposed to pitch. I'm not doing my job. It's terrible.

"I don't know what to say. Sometimes, I come and throw 94 [mph], at least once, like my last outing. Sometimes, like [Saturday], I can't get nothing. I mean, I'm working hard. I'm doing all my exercises. I'm doing everything that I have to do."

Zambrano began the fourth by hitting Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes. That brought up Pirates starter A.J. Burnett, whose sacrifice bunt resulted in a run instead of an out when catcher John Buck airmailed his throw to first.

A walk to the next batter, Alex Presley, loaded the bases. Neil Walker's sacrifice fly to deep left scored another run. After that, Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones both walked, prompting Guillen to bring in Chad Gaudin. The reliever issued a run-scoring walk to Casey McGehee but struck out Pedro Alvarez and Rod Barajas to end the inning.

When asked what was going on with Zambrano, Guillen laughed and said, "What was not going on with him?"

"He [was] just all over the place," Guillen said. "Always, when you're a coach or manager, you're on the bench, you just want your pitcher to throw strikes. That's all you can do."

The Pirates' four runs in the fourth scored on two sacrifices and two bases-loaded walks.

"Early, we bit at some balls down," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We had to take on better discipline to get where we needed to go. We started laying off some pitches.

"And we got some breaks, but to take advantage you have to find ways to put runs on the board, and that's always important."

Miami's lone run came in the top of the second, which Justin Ruggiano led off with a homer to right field. That tied the game, 1-1, as Pittsburgh scored in the first on an RBI groundout by Garret Jones.

"I think they should have scored more runs, to be honest," Guillen said. "The way we pitched in the fourth inning, I think we [were] lucky to come out with only a few runs. It could have been uglier." Gaudin finished the fourth inning for Zambrano and threw three more. He struck out five batters and gave up one hit, in addition to his bases-loaded walk in the fourth.

In picking up the loss, Zambrano raised his ERA to 4.42.

"If I have to work on something, it would be my delivery, my mechanics," said Zambrano, who insisted he's healthy. "I definitely will work on it [during] my next bullpen session with the pitching coach [Randy St. Claire]."

Facing the team with which he broke into the Majors, Burnett (11-3) was quietly effective. He gave up just one run on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings of work. The veteran struck out three and walked one.

With runners in scoring position, the Marlins went 1-for-6. Their average in such situations during the four-game losing streak is .069.

Speaking about how he can turn things around, Guillen said his options are limited, aside from making changes to the lineup card.

"You try to talk to them one-on-one. You try to talk to them as a group," Guillen said. "Right now -- I'm not a meeting guy -- we have so many meetings, it's not the Miami Marlins, [it's] the White House. Meetings everywhere."

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