Pirates commit four errors in loss to A's
Ohlendorf's effort wasted thanks to unearned runs
OAKLAND -- As Jason Jaramillo sat silently at his locker, his head down and shaking, he became the latest snapshot of what's become a historically bad stretch for the Pirates.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
After his team battled back from a two-run deficit to even the score in the seventh inning, Jaramillo's error in the eighth led to Pittsburgh's 3-2 loss to the A's on Sunday. The Pirates have now lost 17 straight road games, the longest such streak since 1985, when they dropped 19 in a row.
On the bright side of things, they're still doing better than the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys, who lost 29 consecutive road contests.
"We stunk," said manager John Russell. "We're not a very good team right now. Too many stupid mistakes. We spoiled a very good start by our pitcher. We can't play that way and expect to win."
But to say the loss was solely Jaramillo's fault would be an injustice, as four errors -- all of which led to runs -- buried the Pirates in their bid to get into the win column.
The first two errors actually occurred on the same play. The first, an errant pickoff attempt from Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf, allowed A's shortstop Cliff Pennington to advance from first to third. The second error, another bad throw courtesy of first baseman Garrett Jones, allowed Pennington to score.
But it would get worse for the Pirates.
In the bottom of the fifth, center fielder Andrew McCutchen almost made a nice running grab in right-center, but dropped the Mark Ellis drive. During the next at-bat, Ohlendorf was late getting to first on an infield single by Pennington to load the bases. He then walked Coco Crisp to make it 2-0 A's, but got out of the jam with no further damage.
Other than the bad throw to first base, Ohlendorf was very effective on Sunday. He limited the A's to two hits over six innings, issuing four walks while striking out three. Ohlendorf said he thought it was one of his best two starts of the year. After struggling through his previous three outings, the 27-year-old right-hander pinned his Sunday success on the ability to command his pitches and throw early strikes.
"If I do a better job defensively, then I don't think they score either run," Ohlendorf said. "Pitching-wise I was happy with it. It was just a couple of defensive mistakes by me that hurt us."
But before it got even worse by the Pirates, they made a run at victory in the seventh.
Lastings Milledge hit his first home run of the year to lead off the frame, a shot to left field, chasing A's starter Gio Gonzalez from the mound. Three batters later, the Pirates tied the game at 2 with Jose Tabata's RBI double down the right-field line. The seventh inning ended a 19-inning scoreless streak for Pittsburgh.
"We're not going to let the numbers get to us," Milledge said. "We still got a lot of season to play. We still got a lot of room for improvement, from a team standpoint and an individual. That's what we're going to continue to work on and continue to move forward."
It all set the stage for the fateful bottom of the eighth, when Jaramillo got bit by the error bug. After striking out the first two batters of the inning, Pirates reliever Evan Meek went ahead 1-2 on A's catcher Kurt Suzuki. He nearly got out of the inning when Suzuki popped up to foul territory behind the plate, but Jaramillo dropped the ball.
"It was a tough play, I should have had it," Jaramillo said. "I missed it and that's all."
Two pitches later, Suzuki drilled a belt-high fastball from Meek over the left-center-field wall, giving the A's the 3-2 advantage.
"I wanted to make [Jaramillo] pay," Suzuki said. "I for sure thought it was an out."
Suzuki was visibly upset immediately after hitting the foul ball, slamming his bat to the ground as the ball floated in the air, but was all smiles after the game.
Meek, meanwhile, placed the blame solely on his shoulders, not on those of Jaramillo.
"I just happened to miss my spot and threw it right to where he was looking to hit it," Meek said. "He put a nice, smooth swing on it. Right when I threw it, I was like, 'Oh, God.' I mean, it's frustrating, but what are you going to do?"
Adding insult to injury was the top of the ninth inning.
After pinch-hitter Delwyn Young hit a leadoff single to center, Jaramillo grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, one of the three Pittsburgh hit into Sunday. Pinch-hitter Pedro Alvarez then drew a walk against A's closer Andrew Bailey, before getting hit in the foot on a Tabata ground ball trying to advance to second.
Just like that, the game was over.
Asked if he thought his team was cursed at this point, Russell said, "You control your own destiny. You got to play ball."
Alex Espinoza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.