Pirates moving past tough series vs. Cubs

Bucs addressing shortcomings as they 'flush' disappointing 3-game set

Pirates moving past tough series vs. Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- Some fans will view the Cubs' three-game sweep of the Pirates at PNC Park as a statement, a reminder that the National League Central's balance of power may be shifting to Chicago. The Pirates won't.

"We flush it," manager Clint Hurdle said after the Pirates' 6-2 loss on Wednesday, their fourth straight defeat. "A lot of people who don't play the game don't flush it."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Joyce goes deep, but Bucs drop finale

Joyce goes deep, but Bucs drop finale

PITTSBURGH -- Already off to their best start in more than 100 years, the Cubs further cemented their status as the National League Central's team to beat on Wednesday, finishing a three-game sweep of the Pirates with a 6-2 win at PNC Park.

Lefty Jon Lester worked out of two jams to hold the Pirates scoreless for 5 2/3 innings, Ben Zobrist ripped a three-run homer and the Cubs improved to 20-6 on the year, six games ahead of the second-place Pirates. Pittsburgh has lost four in a row, and the Bucs' starting pitching continued to struggle in Wednesday's series finale.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Wednesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cervelli admits his secret for pitch framing: 'Love'

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Cervelli admits his secret for pitch framing: 'Love'

Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who is one of the best at pitch framing in the Majors, has a deep feeling for every pitch that comes his way: Love.

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Liriano set to open series vs. rival Cards in St. Louis

Liriano set to open series vs. rival Cards in St. Louis

After the Pirates' series sweep of the Cardinals in Pittsburgh during Opening Week, arguably the most tightly contested rivalry in baseball will return to St. Louis this weekend. The Bucs and Cards, neck and neck in the National League Central over the past three years, will begin a three-game series Friday night at Busch Stadium.

How close has the competition been? Since the start of the 2013 season, they've evenly split their 60 matchups -- 30 wins apiece. The Bucs have outscored the Cardinals, 248-232, over that stretch. The Cards have eight walk-off wins, and the Pirates have four.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

As Kang's rehab nears end, Bucs mull options

Prospect Diaz, lefty Luebke dealing with injuries; Freese sees time at 2nd

As Kang's rehab nears end, Bucs mull options

PITTSBURGH -- Jung Ho Kang's recovery from September surgery on his left leg has gone as well as the Pirates could have hoped for. With his Minor League rehabilitation assignment winding down, it's time for Pittsburgh to determine what's next.

Saturday is the final day of Kang's 20-day rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis. The Pirates essentially have three options. They could choose to activate him and add him to their roster this weekend in St. Louis. They could pause his rehab assignment and resume it shortly afterward, resetting that 20-day clock. Or they could activate him and option him to Triple-A to get more playing time.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates miss chance in 1st, fall to Arrieta

Pirates miss chance in 1st, fall to Arrieta

PITTSBURGH -- Returning to PNC Park for the first time since the National League Wild Card Game, Jake Arrieta threw seven scoreless innings and improved to 6-0 in the Cubs' 7-1 win over the Pirates.

Arrieta walked the Pirates' first two hitters Tuesday night, and that was about as bad as it got for the Cubs. Backed by a lineup that racked up 11 hits and five walks, Arrieta held Pittsburgh to two singles, struck out five and at one point retired 15 straight batters.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Tuesday.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Cutch recounts feel-good moment with fans

Pirates center fielder receives Esurance Award for interaction with McCreary family

Cutch recounts feel-good moment with fans

PITTSBURGH -- In today's world of viral videos, what might be an otherwise innocuous moment noticed by a few observers can, for better or for worse, turn into much more.

Such was the case for Andrew McCutchen and four very loyal Pirates fans, who last summer in San Diego unknowingly became part of one of the most heart-warming stories of the season. A simple exchange between the star Pirates outfielder and the McCreary family, arguably his most loyal West Coast fans, was caught on camera, swept through social media on a digital tidal wave and became one of those feel-good moments that fans from coast to coast couldn't seem to get enough of.

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Taillon among top prospect performers Tuesday

Red Sox's top prospect hits his first Minor League grand slam, No. 3 prospect sets Salem club record

Taillon among top prospect performers Tuesday

After they were rained out to begin the week, Class A Advanced Salem continued their winning ways Tuesday with a doubleheader road sweep of Carolina.

Boston's elite prospect duo of Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi, MLBPipeline.com's Nos. 5 and 22 overall prospects, respectively, led Salem in its victories and have helped make Salem's offense one of the most dynamic in the Minors.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates on list of clubs who can't solve Arrieta

Pittsburgh notches just two hits over seven innings against Cubs' ace

Pirates on list of clubs who can't solve Arrieta

PITTSBURGH -- Matt Joyce had hit against Jake Arrieta before Tuesday night. Joyce had hit Arrieta well, in fact, with seven hits in 14 at-bats. That was years ago, when Joyce played for the Rays and Arrieta was a struggling starter for the Orioles.

"He's facing a different guy now," Arrieta said. "It's a little different story."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle: Rivalry with Cubs 'good for the game'

Hurdle: Rivalry with Cubs 'good for the game'

PITTSBURGH -- After tempers flared during the Pirates' 7-2 loss on Monday night at PNC Park, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said the National League Central rivals had developed "an actual organic rivalry" that benefits baseball. Does that ring true for the Pirates?

"I think rivalries within a sport are healthy. I think they're good," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I think it's good for the game."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole off his game as Pirates fall to Cubs

Cole off his game as Pirates fall to Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- The last time the Pirates and Cubs took the field at PNC Park, Chicago beat up on Pittsburgh's ace and stifled the Bucs' bats en route to a National League Wild Card Game victory. The circumstances may have been different, but the script was largely the same in the Cubs' 7-2 win on Monday night.

"It was our night to come up a little bit short across the board," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Monday.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Nothing contrived about Cubs-Pirates rivalry

Talented clubs battling to be top team in NL Central, and also aren't the best of friends

Nothing contrived about Cubs-Pirates rivalry

PITTSBURGH -- For a rivalry to really work, a few elements have to be in order: Both teams have to be good, they have to have a lot on the line every time they play, and they have to -- at least between the lines -- not like each other very much.

The Cubs and Pirates appear to fit all of the above criteria and, with that in mind, boy, has this National League Central rivalry become a doozy.

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Containing leadoff hitters an issue for Cole

Cubs get on base to open first four innings, and each baserunner reaches second

Containing leadoff hitters an issue for Cole

PITTSBURGH -- Gerrit Cole was admittedly "out of sync" in Monday's 7-2 loss to the Cubs at PNC Park, the long-awaited rematch of last season's National League Wild Card Game. That description applied to the Pirates' work controlling the Cubs' running game, too.

Cole allowed the Cubs' leadoff man to reach safely in each of his first four innings, and they all took second base without a hit or a walk to get them there. Dexter Fowler stole second twice, Addison Russell added one and Matt Szczur got there on Cole's errant pickoff throw.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle keeping consistent lineup this season

Change of pace for Pirates, who used 108 combinations last year

Hurdle keeping consistent lineup this season

PITTSBURGH -- From top to bottom, the Pirates have built one of the Majors' most productive lineups so far this season. They've been remarkably consistent in another way, too.

On Monday, manager Clint Hurdle wrote out the Bucs' typical starting eight for the 14th time in 26 games: John Jaso, Andrew McCutchen, David Freese, Starling Marte, Francisco Cervelli, Gregory Polanco, Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zinsser named Pirates' Honorary Bat Girl

PITTSBURGH -- Kirsten Zinsser is the Pirates' winner of the annual Honorary Bat Girl contest, which recognizes fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment to supporting the fight against the disease.

Each of the 30 Major League clubs is represented by an Honorary Bat Girl, and the winners will be recognized on the field on Mother's Day this Sunday. Since the Pirates are playing in St. Louis on Sunday, Zinsser will be recognized at PNC Park at a later date.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Glasnow on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

Glasnow on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible, including big leaguers.

Dansby Swanson and Andrew Benintendi were viewed as two of the top college bats available in the 2015 Draft before going to the D-backs and Red Sox with the Nos. 1 and 7 overall picks, respectively. Swanson -- now with the Braves -- and Benintendi have blown past expectations so far in their first full pro seasons, and after starring at the plate last week, they both land on the latest edition of MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week (April 25-May 1).

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs fall in 11 despite Polanco's monster HR

Bucs fall in 11 despite Polanco's monster HR

PITTSBURGH -- The Reds took a two-run lead in the sixth inning Sunday afternoon and lost it in the seventh. They pulled ahead again in the eighth and let the Pirates tie it, then they repeated the cycle again in the ninth. Finally, after letting Pittsburgh come back and tie it in three straight innings, Cincinnati put away the game in the 11th inning, halting its six-game losing streak with a 6-5 win at PNC Park.

Left fielder Scott Schebler put the Reds ahead in the ninth, driving a double to the left-field wall off Arquimedes Caminero and scoring Adam Duvall. But like Cincinnati's advantages in the seventh and eighth innings, the lead wouldn't last. John Jaso homered off right-hander Ross Ohlendorf with two outs in the ninth, sending the game to extra innings.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Reds on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Glasnow among top prospect perfomers Sunday

Rockies, D-backs hurlers both don't allow a run in pitchers' duel

Glasnow among top prospect perfomers Sunday

Top 100 pitchers Jeff Hoffman (No. 49) and Braden Shipley (No. 64) squared off Sunday in the final game of the four-game set between Triple-A Albuquerque and Reno, and both hurlers were electric.

Hoffman, No. 5 on the Rockies' Top 30, turned in his best start of the season for the Isotopes, firing seven scoreless innings, during which he allowed just three hits (all singles). The right-hander matched his season high with six strikeouts and did not issue a walk in the outing, his first walk-less performance of 2016, with 68 of his 99 pitches going for strikes.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Uncharacteristic miscues plague Bucs in extra-inning loss

Pittsburgh commits season-high four errors vs. Reds

Uncharacteristic miscues plague Bucs in extra-inning loss

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates gave the Reds a good fight Sunday afternoon, coming back in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to force extras at PNC Park. They also gave their opponent plenty of chances to win, making several mistakes in the field that led to a 6-5 loss in 11 innings.

Enjoying a sound defensive season, Pittsburgh committed a season-high four errors and several other misplays that came back to haunt them.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs end April on a tear, win 6th straight

Bucs end April on a tear, win 6th straight

PITTSBURGH -- Behind Francisco Liriano's longest start of the season, the Pirates extended their winning streak to six games and finished April with a 5-1 victory over the Reds on Saturday night at PNC Park.

Liriano limited the Reds to one run over 6 2/3 innings, striking out six without a walk in his best start since Opening Day. The Bucs backed him by tagging Cincinnati right-hander Alfredo Simon for three runs in four innings, enough support with the way Liriano was pitching. John Jaso hit a leadoff home run, and Sean Rodriguez padded the Pirates' lead with a two-run homer in the eighth inning, his fourth homer of the season.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Reds on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Liriano 'quick and efficient' in win over Reds

Liriano 'quick and efficient' in win over Reds

PITTSBURGH -- Over the past three years, Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano has made a living outside the strike zone. On Saturday night he set up shop over the plate.

Liriano pounded the strike zone for 6 2/3 innings in a 5-1 win over the Reds on a rainy night at PNC Park. It was his longest start of the season and easily his best since a 10-strikeout performance on Opening Day. It was also his first walk-free start of at least six innings since June 12, 2011.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Offseason work paying dividends for Joyce

Offseason work paying dividends for Joyce

PITTSBURGH -- Coming off the worst season of his career, Matt Joyce knew he needed to make some changes. He wanted to rediscover the swing that took him to the All-Star Game with the Rays in 2011 and made him a productive hitter throughout his career.

So Joyce, a free agent at 31, worked with two hitting instructors. He watched video of himself and other hitters. He spent weeks playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. As his pinch-hit home run on Friday night proved, he has found the swing that went missing for a year.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bullpen at full strength with Hughes off DL

Bullpen at full strength with Hughes off DL

PITTSBURGH -- The back end of the Pirates' bullpen returned to full strength on Saturday, as Pittsburgh recalled right-hander Jared Hughes from the disabled list.

Hughes joined the club at PNC Park on Friday, and the Bucs activated him before Saturday's game against the Reds. Hughes had been sidelined since March 16 due to a strained left lat, which required a longer-than-expected recovery process.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nicasio makes quick work of Reds

Pirates encouraged by righty's pace, efficiency in scoreless outing

Nicasio makes quick work of Reds

PITTSBURGH -- Juan Nicasio's fastball hit 98 mph in the first inning Friday night. It clocked in 12 times at 96 mph or better. But that wasn't why the Pirates knew Nicasio was in for a good start.

It was Nicasio's pace, not his velocity, that encouraged the Pirates. Sure enough, Nicasio worked quickly and efficiently through seven scoreless innings in a 4-1 win over the Reds at PNC Park.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Homers back Nicasio's gem to defeat Reds

Homers back Nicasio's gem to defeat Reds

PITTSBURGH -- Backed by home runs from Josh Harrison and Matt Joyce, right-hander Juan Nicasio delivered the Pirates' finest start of the season in a 4-1 win over the Reds on Friday night at PNC Park.

Nicasio fired seven scoreless innings, holding Cincinnati to three hits and a walk while striking out eight batters. Challenged earlier this month to work quickly and be more efficient, Nicasio did both in his fifth start of the season. He retired the final nine Reds he faced and needed only 97 pitches to deliver Pittsburgh's second seven-inning start of the year.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Reds on Friday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates extend coaching staff through 2017

Hurdle, Huntington happy to maintain continuity with talented group

Pirates extend coaching staff through 2017

PITTSBURGH -- Looking to maintain continuity from the top down, the Pirates announced Friday that they have extended the contracts of their entire coaching staff through next season.

That means heralded pitching coach Ray Searage and bullpen coach Euclides Rojas -- who have played significant roles in reviving struggling pitchers' careers in Pittsburgh -- will be back another year.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Pack mentality' working for Pirates' offense

'Pack mentality' working for Pirates' offense

DENVER -- The Pirates retooled their offensive approach over the offseason, and with nearly a month's sample size to analyze, the efforts are paying off.

Entering Thursday, the Bucs have the third-highest run total in the Majors, with 119 through their first 22 games. That's 5.41 runs per game, and -- fun fact -- when the Pirates score four or more runs, they're 13-3 (.813 winning percentage).

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Owen Perkins is a contributor for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.