PITTSBURGH -- Since entering August at their season peak -- 16 games above .500 and in second place, three games behind the Reds -- the Pirates have held their own in the tough games, going 9-11 against teams with winning records. Not a spectacular record, but considerably better than Pittsburgh's 4-13 mark over the same stretch against sub-.500 clubs. A vote for the concept of playing up, or down, to the competition?
"That could be true," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle conceded. "There's probably an argument for that. A chameleon effect ... sometimes that's what happens in sports." The Bucs changed their colors on that Aug. 1 date. Until then, they owned the Majors' best record versus sub-.500 teams, at 37-15. Then they jumped tracks to that 4-13 figure. "Except, I think it's been case-specific," Hurdle said. "We, obviously, did not answer the bell in Milwaukee [being swept in a Aug. 31-Sept. 2 series the Brewers had begun with a 62-67 record]. But we did against St. Louis [taking a pair of three-game series]. "We just haven't played well," added Hurdle, looking at the broader picture and suggesting his club has been hot and cold, regardless of the opposition. "We haven't played consistently well."