Wednesday's 13-3 loss to the Rangers certainly didn't fit that bill.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
It began with Paul Maholm unable to settle in. It continued with Dana Eveland's inability to limit damage with two outs. And it ended with the Rangers and Pirates continuing their paths in different directions.
Pittsburgh's loss marked the clubs' 13th straight defeat on the road and the team's 14th loss in its past 16 road games. Texas, on the other hand, pleased the 33,646 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington with a 10th straight victory, the second-longest winning streak in franchise history.
And as manager John Russell predicted at the start of the series, it all boiled down to pitching.
"It's a tough lineup to get through," Russell said. "They take advantage of mistakes. Obviously, we made too many tonight."
Facing a Texas club that entered with the Majors' third-highest batting average (.277), Maholm labored through a 33-pitch first inning. Still, the left-hander got out of the frame with Michael Young's two-run blast as the only serious damage. A two-run deficit certainly seemed manageable.
However, there would be nothing encouraging after that.
Maholm's outing lasted just seven more hitters, none of which would be retired. Neil Walker's fielding error in the second didn't help, but it was a frustrating string of singles that ultimately did him in. Five straight Texas hitters singled to knock Maholm out of the game and lead the Rangers to a five-run frame.
"It's just one of those days -- you fall behind, you leave pitches over the middle," said Maholm (4-6). "Pretty much you just chalk it up to, 'I [stunk].' There's no better way to say it. It wasn't a good day. But also, I understand it's part of the game, and I'm going to be ready in five days."
Said Russell: "Unfortunately he couldn't get the ball where he wanted. It was just one of those starts and obviously at a bad time."
The Rangers were hitting everything, too -- fastballs, changeups, sliders, you name it. Maholm couldn't catch a break, and the Rangers never relented. Those five singles came in just a 13-pitch span.
"Every one of them [stunk]. Every one of them," Maholm said of his pitches. "It's the worst outing of my career, and hopefully it will be the last one."
Maholm's uncharacteristic wildness wasn't limited to just delivering way too many hittable pitches. He also issued four walks the first time through the batting order.
In all, the left-hander was charged with seven runs (five earned) and picked up his second straight loss. In 141 previous career starts, Maholm had never lasted less than two innings. And prior to Wednesday, he had not surrendered more than four earned runs in any of his previous 14 starts this year.
"We put up a lot of numbers without a lot of guys in the lineup," said Rangers manager Ron Washington, whose team rolled despite not having hot-hitting Josh Hamilton in the lineup. "That's what this lineup does. It plays with the nine that's out there and whoever else can come in the game and help."
Texas went on to match its season high with 13 runs as it added six more off Eveland, who had not pitched since June 11. Russell had been saving Eveland as a long-relief option, but fourth-inning issues kept Eveland from being the innings-eater that the Pirates really could have used.
Eveland got out of the second, pitched a scoreless third and got two outs in the fourth before everything caved in. Reminiscent of Maholm's issues two innings earlier, Eveland allowed the next seven hitters to reach. He contributed to his own implosion, walking one and hitting another batter during that string.
Asked if the long layoff appeared to hurt Eveland, Russell certainly didn't jump at the chance to use that as an excuse.
"You can attribute some to rust, but he just made some mistakes," Russell said. "A hot-hitting team is going to take advantage of it."
Eveland, however, had somewhat of a different take.
"I was definitely a bit rusty," he said. "I just got worn out a little quicker than I thought I would. I had a couple groundballs back to me. After a couple of those -- and my legs were already going to Jello -- I really lost my legs and then lost my mechanics a bit. I just was worn out."
Eveland's defensive activity included covering first on a fielder's choice and chasing down what ended up being an infield single.
"When I got tired, everything just went flat," he said. "I wasn't tricking anybody after that."
D.J. Carrasco had to come in to close out the inning, one in which Texas sent 11 hitters to the plate. Eveland's inability to pitch deeper into the game also forced Russell to have to use some of his late-inning options to get through the three-hour, 10-minute affair. In all, five relievers were called in to work at least one inning.
"[I] really hated to use Carrasco and [Javier] Lopez," Russell said. "But they did a good job."
Though the offense chased Texas' Dustin Nippert from his start just three innings in, it never waged much of a comeback as the deficit swelled. The club finished with just five hits, two of which came from Bobby Crosby. The shortstop was starting for the sixth time in seven games and has at least two hits in each of his past three starts.
The Pirates are 2-9 in Interleague Play with four more games remaining.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.