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Big hits elusive as Bucs fall to Cards

Big hits elusive as Bucs fall to Cards

ST. LOUIS -- With all the things that have haunted the Pirates this season -- not being able to get a big hit, trying to piece together a bullpen and figuring out the backend of their starting rotation -- one thing that has worked out well for the Bucs so far has been Tom Gorzelanny.

So, when the left-handed starter took a line drive off his left thumb in the sixth inning of the Pirates' series finale against the Cardinals, manager Jim Tracy immediately jumped up and raced out to the mound to check on his southpaw.

Fortunately, the diagnosis for Gorzelanny was just a bruised thumb, and there wasn't a break. For the Pirates, on the other hand, the diagnosis wasn't as good on Thursday.

The Bucs again struggled offensively and lost their fifth straight game, 3-1, to the Cardinals, finishing off a three-game sweep by the defending world champions.

"We find ourselves in baseball games every day with an opportunity to win," Tracy said. "Obviously, if we are going to get where we want to be, there's some things that need to happen offensively."

The Bucs managed just five hits and left eight men on base, going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. But, in a 162-game season, the bigger concern for Tracy and the Bucs was the status of Gorzelanny.

Trying to work out of a jam in the sixth inning, with two runners on, Cards second baseman Aaron Miles lined a shot back to Gorzelanny, but he couldn't get out of the way in time. The ball drilled him in the left thumb.

At that point in the contest, Gorzelanny had already thrown 118 pitches through 5 1/3 innings and Tracy lifted him from the game to get X-rays.

A couple of innings later, the Bucs found out their lefty was OK, and there was no break in the thumb. Tracy and Gorzelanny both were unsure whether the lefty would make his next start. Both of them said they would wait and see if the bruising goes down in the next couple of days.

"We dodged a bullet because of where that bone is right there," Tracy said. "Obviously [it was] a very scary moment for us. As we were standing there, he was starting to get fairly black and blue."

Gorzelanny said he feels fine other than a little soreness, and would like to make his next start. For the left-hander, it wasn't his best effort, but he did enough to keep his team in the game.

Battling deep counts and spotty location, Gorzelanny ran into a little trouble in the second inning. After So Taguchi singled with one out, Yadier Molina doubled down the left-field line to score Taguchi for the first run of the game. Miles followed with a bloop single to score Molina. Gorzelanny settled down and got out of the inning. The two runs in the second were all he surrendered.

"It's just one of those things where the ball was dropping in, and you can't really control it," Gorzelanny said. "You feel like you make a good pitch, and then it falls in and they score runs. It's just how that game works. You just have to tip your cap to them."

The Bucs had trouble generating runs and couldn't help get their lefty off the hook. Their only run came in the sixth, when Jose Bautista led off the inning with a solo home run.

The Pirates threatened in the seventh, when the Cardinals bullpen had trouble throwing strikes. With one out, Xavier Nady was plunked by a pitch, sending him to first. After an out, Jack Wilson singled to move Nady over. Pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit also got a hit to load the bases for Bautista. The third baseman couldn't come through for the second inning in a row and grounded out to end the inning.

Again in the eighth, after Chris Duffy was hit by a pitch and Adam LaRoche singled, the Bucs had two runners on with one out, but saw Jason Bay strike out and Nady ground out to end the threat.

"You're in the part of the order where you want to be, we just couldn't get it done," Tracy said.

"Sometimes it's good pitching and sometimes it's not very good hitting, and I think right now I think it's a little bit of both," Bay said. "We've regressed a little bit."

After reliever Brian Rogers allowed a run in the eighth, the Pirates went 1-2-3 in the ninth for the second straight day, capping off a frustrating series for the Bucs.

"As we continue on here, we just have to keep battling," Tracy said. "It's games out there like today and last night. There's all kinds of opportunities for us if offensively we can get something going, here and there."

Daniel Berk is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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