- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2016

PITTSBURGH (AP) - With or without Andrew McCutchen in the lineup, the Pittsburgh Pirates are at a loss this month.

Manager Clint Hurdle gave his star center fielder a day off and the Pirates fell to San Francisco 5-3 Thursday, their 11th defeat in 14 games.

Hurdle said McCutchen’s absence had nothing to do with a swollen left thumb, which trainer Todd Tomczyk had said was a “maintenance thing.”

Instead, Hurdle used the day off to try to get the former NL MVP back on track.

“It’s not specifically the thumb, it’s just about getting him off the field and getting him a rest - as we do with all the guys - mentally and physically,” Hurdle said.

“This is the next option. We’ve tried moving some things around, we’ve tried different routines. He’s tried some different things as well to try and spark performance.”

McCutchen is hitting .187 with just three extra-base hits in the month of June.

Pittsburgh dropped to 5-17 in June and fell five games under .500.

Joe Panik hit a bases-loaded triple, Mac Williamson launched a 446-foot home run and the Giants posted their 12th win in 14 games. San Francisco took three of four at PNC Park.

After hitting a key double late in Wednesday night’s win, Panik put the Giants ahead 3-1 with his triple in the third inning. Williamson followed with an RBI single.

Williamson connected for his second home run of the season in the sixth.

Albert Suarez (3-1) gave up two earned runs and four hits in five innings.

Suarez threw a season-high 102 pitches in his fourth start of the season while filling in for the injured Matt Cain. He struck out six.

Santiago Casilla struck out three in the ninth for his 16th save.

The Giants’ bullpen shut down the Pirates for the second consecutive game. George Kontos, Hunter Strickland, Cory Gearrin and Casilla combined to pitched four scoreless innings a day after the Giants used five relievers to pitch six shutout innings.

Jonathon Niese (6-5) was tagged for five runs in six innings. He lamented the Giants’ big third.

The rest of the outing had a lot of positives for Niese, but continuing a recent trend for him, the results didn’t match the overall quality of his effort.

“You can pinpoint one or two things each outing that could have made it a lot different,” Niese said. “I’m not going to panic. I know that one or two swings each outing could change the outing for the better. I’m just going to keep fighting and those things will turn around for me.”

Gregory Polanco hit two sacrifice flies for the Pirates. Josh Harrison added an RBI triple.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: LF Starling Marte was held out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game with a sore left foot. He pinch hit in the seventh inning and flied out. … C Chris Stewart was out after starting Wednesday, his first appearance since being sidelined with a knee injury.

UP NEXT

Giants: Jake Peavy (3-6, 5.47 ERA) will start at home when the Giants open a three-game set against Philadelphia. Peavy has a 2.65 ERA in three June starts.

Pirates: Rookie Jameson Taillon (1-1, 3.50 ERA) will make his fourth start to being a four-game home series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Taillon had his first subpar start the last time out, when he gave up eight hits and four runs in four innings against the Cubs on June 19.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide