Inconsistencies at root of Bucs' recent woes

Inconsistencies at root of Bucs' recent woes

Inconsistencies at root of Bucs' recent woes
CHICAGO -- Clint Hurdle doesn't think he needs in-depth manager-speak to explain the Pirates' recent skid.

"If you're a fan of baseball -- and [you've followed] the game for a while -- this is pretty easy to identify," Hurdle said. "I don't see this as a complex Rubik's cube whatsoever."

Inconsistencies, a lot of them, Hurdle said, have led to the Pirates' seven-game losing streak and the club winning only twice in their last 13 games entering Saturday's contest against the Cubs.

Only one game above .500 but still just three games behind the Cardinals for the final National League Wild Card spot, it's been another rough second half for Pittsburgh, which also struggled last season after a hot start. The Pirates hope last year's fate -- another sub-.500 record -- doesn't await the 2012 squad. But the comparisons are hard to ignore.

There are still inconsistencies that breed losing streaks, so, in that regard, this version of the Pirates is the same as last year's, Hurdle admitted. But the manager also said he's seen improved commitment, focus and preparation after what the Pirates learned from last year's woes. He hopes that soon begins manifesting itself on the field on a consistent basis.

"We've talked about it now for two weeks, and that's what's been going on for two weeks," Hurdle said. "We need to play better ball, we need to have better at-bats and we need to do better things when the game dictates execution."