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Bad mojo

DENVER — The Pirates’ clubhouse was not a fun place to be the past couple of nights, for obvious and slightly different reasons.

Friday, there was stunned reaction to the news that veteran outfielder Craig Monroe had been designated for assignment. Nobody has anything against Steve Pearce, who was called up from Triple-A, but the move was viewed by many players as another hoisting of the white flag on the 2009 season.

Near the end of spring training, one player told me he was happy the Pirates signed Monroe, saying he was the kind of veteran bat the team needed to find success. Friday. when I told that same player Monroe had been cut, he shook his head and frowned. “What are we doing?” the player said.

Last night, the mood was soured by the devastating walkoff loss against the Rockies. It was the Pirates’ ninth loss in the final at-bat this season. The bullpen allowed seven runs — all of them coming on home runs. Just as frustrating, the Pirates had a chance to put the game away in the eighth — runners on first and second, none out — but failed to do anything. Jack Wilson hit a comebacker, Jason Jaramillo was picked off second base and Eric Hinske struck out. Pfffffffft! That’s the danger of relying on a small-ball approach. The Rockies showed how power can be a late-game saving grace.

Don’t expect the Pirates to turn into a slugging team anytime soon, though. Speed, defense and station-to-station scoring is the future of this club … but if I said any more, I’d be giving away my story in Tuesday’s Trib.

• Right-hander Brad Lincoln was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis. Lincoln was a hard-luck 1-5 with Double-A Altoona, but had a 2.18 ERA and a dandy 1.08 WHIP. He’ll move into Indy’s rotation and seems to be on track for an April 2010 ETA in Pittsburgh.

• Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

PIRATES — 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Delwyn Young lf, 4. Eric Hinske rf, 5. Andy LaRoche 3b, 6. Steve Pearce 1b, 7. Robinzon Diaz c, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Paul Maholm (4-3, 4.23) lhp

ROCKIES — 1. Dexter Fowler cf, 2. Clint Barmes 2b, 3. Ryan Spilborghs lf, 4. Brad Hawpe rf, 5. Troy Tulowitzky ss, 6. Garrett Atkins 1b, 7. Ian Stewart 3b, 8. Paul Phillips c, 9. Jorge De La Rosa (2-7, 5.81) lhp

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