D-backs unable to strike after Bucs starter exits early

Cahill fans seven in five innings but struggles with command

D-backs unable to strike after Bucs starter exits early

PHOENIX -- Coming home after sweeping an injury-depleted Brewers squad, the D-backs appeared to catch another break Monday when Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez left the game early with hamstring tightness, forcing Pittsburgh to go to its bullpen in the third inning.

As it turned out, Rodriguez's abrupt exit was anything but fortuitous for the D-backs. Over the final 6 2/3 innings of the game, the Pirates' bullpen held the D-backs in check as Arizona's four game-winning streak came to an end Monday, 5-3, at Chase Field.

"They've got a good bullpen, their guys throw hard and throw strikes," Paul Goldschmidt said. "I know last year they had some ridiculous stats as a team. They did a good job."

Despite outhitting the Pirates, 6-5, the D-backs managed just one run on four hits off four Pittsburgh relievers, who faced the minimum over the final five innings. Left-hander Justin Wilson tossed three of the frames, striking out two and retiring the only batter who reached on a double play.

"He came in and shut us down," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's got a good arm, we know that."

Down 3-0, the D-backs rallied to tie the game in the third inning before the bats were quieted the rest of the game. One victim of the offensive struggle was Gerardo Parra's hit streak, dating back to 2012, which ended at nine after a 0-for-3 night.

"We got back in, but we weren't able to come all the way back," Goldschmidt said. "You've got to score more than three to win. It wasn't bad but they played a little bit better."

Making his second start of the season following a so-so outing against the Cardinals last week, Trevor Cahill again turned in a pedestrian performance, allowing four runs over five innings.

"He didn't throw the ball where he wanted to at all," Gibson said. "Didn't hit his location and they got on us. Just didn't have his command."

The Pirates jumped on the right-hander early for three runs in the first inning as Andrew McCutchen and Travis Snider each delivered an RBI hit. Since joining the D-backs at the beginning of last season, the first inning has been a consistent area of weakness for Cahill, who has a 6.35 ERA in the frame, the worst of any inning.

Dating back to last season, the 25-year-old is 2-7 over his past 12 starts.

"The whole game I think I was trying to find my arm slot, I felt like I couldn't control my fastball," Cahill said. "I felt fine, I just didn't know where it was going."

Cahill managed to limit the damage after the first, however, striking out seven batters total and not allowing another hit until the fifth, when Starling Marte drove a triple down the left-field line and later scored on McCutchen's sacrifice fly.

"That's what the top of the order is for, to produce, to get on base so the bats behind us can do the job," McCutchen said. "Marte's doing a good job, he's been the guy he needs to be, hope he can continue to do that."

The D-backs plated their first run in the second inning on Wil Nieves' two-out single up the middle. In the next inning, Arizona tied the game at 3, thanks to a sacrifice fly off the bat of Goldschmidt and Alfredo Marte's first career hit, an RBI single to center.

In the fourth inning, the D-backs squandered their best chance to take a lead when they put their first two batters on base but came up empty after the Pirates successfully ran a wheel play on Cahill's bunt to retire the lead runner at third.

"I saw the guy start moving and I was thinking about slashing, but it was just too late," Cahill said. "You see all that stuff going, you don't have time to process it really."

After the Pirates took a one-run lead off Cahill in the fifth, Garrett Jones provided an insurance run for Pittsburgh with a home run in the eighth off Josh Collmenter.

"That one hurt," Gibson said. "It didn't work out for us tonight."

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