The Pittsburgh Pirates (23-43) dropped their 11th game in row on Thursday night, losing to the Chicago White Sox 5-4 at PNC Park.
White Sox starter Mark Buehrle (5-6) allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings pitched to earn his 5th win of the season.
Buehrle kept the Pirates bats in check, limiting the Pirates to just 6 hits as the White Sox held a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the 8th inning.
The Pirates through rallied in the 8th, scoring three runs and with two outs and runners on first and third, Pedro Alvarez had a chance to drive in the game tying run but struck out on three pitches to end the inning.
Overall, It was another night of struggles for Alvarez at the plate who made his second career start.
Alvarez was 0-for-4 with three strike outs, grounded into a double play and was 0-for-2 in situations with runners in scoring position.
Alvarez was hitless in three at-bats against Buehrle but remains opportunistic and confident.
“I’m starting my career facing some of the best pitching in the league, and I’m still optimistic, ” Alvarez said.
The Pirates highly touted rookie did show more confidence in the field at third base. Alvarez made a number of good plays in the field and is showing good range from third.
Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge each had multi-hit games.
Walker (.289) hit a solo home run in the 6th inning and was 2-for-4 at the plate with 2 runs scored and 1 RBI in the game. McCutchen (.317) was 2-for-4 and added an RBI in the three run 8th inning.
Lastings Milledge (.266) continues to hit the ball well with runners in scoring position, driving in a run in the 8th. Milledge had his second straight two hit game and is 12-for-32 in his last 10 games.
Ross Ohlendorf (0-5, 5.22) fell to 0-5 on the season. Ohlendorf allowed 5 runs on 9 hits in 6.1/3 and has not won since last August.
Shortstop Bobby Crosby made his second straight start in place of Ronny Cedeno who is not injured.
Manager John Russell said before the game that Crosby is not playing enough and that the Pirates need to get him in the lineup. Crosby was 0-for-3 in the game and is batting .218 on the season.
Russell, Huntington extensions
Most of the buzz after the game was not about the Pirates losing streak reaching 11 games and being 20 games under .500 but the PR blunder that the team made on Thursday in announcing that John Russell and Neal Huntington are under contract through 2011.
Huntington and Russell being extended was not surprising but the announcement was odd from the standpoint that Russell’s team option was picked up in October and Huntington’s contact was also extended in October.
The lack of long-term security for Huntington and Russell has been an area of focus from the media for months. To keep Huntington and Russell’s contract extensions quiet for 8 months would never happen in any other organizations.
Most organization’s are proud to announce extensions for their managers, coaches and GM’s.
Russell said after the game that he is much more at ease now and appeared much more upbeat with his contract situation resolved. “The contract is nice, ” Russell said.
However, if the team option was actually picked up in October like Frank Coonelly announced, why would a public announcement all of a sudden put Russell at ease nearly 8 months later.
The Pirates handled the situation totally wrong and the announcement could not have came at a worst time.
Although the Pirates organization remains behind Russell, being under contract through 2011 does little to secure his long-term security with the team.