PITTSBURGH -- The difference between the good Pedro Alvarez and the bad one in 2012 has been like night and day. Alvarez has a .318 average in day games, when in fewer than half as many opportunities he has more homers (14) and RBIs (32) than at night (seven and 26). Still, the third baseman was out of the starting lineup for a second straight afternoon affair as the Bucs concluded their four-game series with the D-backs on Thursday. The presence of left-hander Joe Saunders on the mound had less to do with manager Clint Hurdle's decision than Alvarez's recent play. Alvarez has one hit -- and six strikeouts -- in his last 14 at-bats.
"I'm not going to hang my hat on day games guaranteeing he'll get hits all the time. It hasn't played out that way lately," said Hurdle. "Right now, I'm just looking at the quality of his at-bats." In the course of that latest batting lull, Alvarez has also committed three errors. Josh Harrison, who again started at third on Thursday, has flashed good range and leather at the position.