Pirates offense comes up short in finale
Bay extends hit streak to seven; Gorzelanny strikes out eight
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates lefty Tom Gorzelanny and Rays right-hander Andy Sonnanstine hooked up in a tight pitching duel as the Rays defeated the Bucs, 4-3, on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.
A crowd of 15,828 watched the Pirates lose the finale of a three-game series and finish the homestand with a 4-4 mark.
Tampa Bay pushed across the winning runs in the top of the eighth inning against Pirates reliever Tyler Yates. Carlos Pena singled and scored on a single by Willie Aybar after a throwing error by right fielder Xavier Nady went wide of third -- allowing Pena to score.
"It's hard to fault the guy that's leading the National League in assists," Pirates Manager John Russell said. "He's got a good arm, and has thrown some guys out for us. You hate to make that kind of mistake at that point in the game and throw the ball away, but he's been very good at that for us all year. That one got away from him, and it was a very inopportune time for us. He's made some big throws for us, and I don't want him to not be aggressive because he can throw people out."
Aybar pushed across the Rays' fourth run when he came home on an RBI single by Shawn Riggans.
Gorzelanny hurled six innings and was tagged for two runs on eight hits. He recorded eight strikeouts and received a no-decision.
"It was the life he had down in the zone and he worked both sides of the plate," Russell said. "I thought he pitched in to the right-handers pretty well. Strikeouts are nice, but the biggest key was he was down in the zone and only had two walks. He really was effective today. He pitched, and that's what he's capable of doing."
Gorzelanny attributed his performance to wanting to be more aggressive and attack the hitters.
"I felt like I went after guys," Gorzelanny said. "I threw good pitches and got some good outs and made a couple mistakes, but I didn't pay too much for it and unfortunately we got the loss."
The lefty has struggled with control, but felt this was one of his best outings of the year.
"It's a good outing," Gorzelanny said. "I was pleased with the way I was throwing the ball, and consistently being low and making some good pitches.
Yates suffered the loss, falling to 3-1 on the season.
Sonnanstine pitched seven innings and allowed two runs (one unearned) on five hits. He notched the win, upping his record to 9-3.
Tampa Bay broke through against Gorzelanny in the top of the fourth inning, as Riggans deposited a 2-2 offering into the left-center-field bullpen. It was Riggans' fourth home run of the season, and staked the Rays to a 1-0 lead.
Pittsburgh tied the score in the bottom of the fourth. Freddy Sanchez led off with a double, and wound up at third after an error by center fielder B.J Upton. Sanchez scored on a sacrifice fly by Jason Bay.
Aybar put the Rays back on top in the sixth inning with his third homer of the season.
The Pirates bounced right back in the bottom of the sixth. Jack Wilson doubled and came in to score on a groundout by Nate McLouth to tie the score.
Pittsburgh made it a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth when Wilson singled and scored on a RBI single by pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit.
The Pirates head out for a seven-game road swing beginning Monday against the Reds, and Russell feels the club missed some opportunities during the homestand.
"Obviously we would have liked to have done better," Russell said. "A couple of games we lost we were right in it. We didn't have much offense today, but we faced some good teams and a couple breaks here or there we could have had a very nice homestand, but you've got to like the way the guys competed against some of the better teams in the American League and some of the better pitching in the American League. I think that was a big key is we faced some pretty good arms this past week and came out of it OK."
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.