Embarrassing end to 10th loss


What could have been a feel-good story — something the Pirates sorely need right now — turned ugly in the final three innings tonight.

The Pirates lost 7-2 against the White Sox, stretching their losing skid to 10 games. What made it all the more brutal were six errors in the final three innings, including a four-blunder ninth, which led to two unearned runs.

“Embarrassing,” manager John Russell said. “We kicked the ball around and threw it around. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The “crowd” of 15,218 — which certainly was a bit below expectations, considering it was Pedropalooza — gave Alvarez a standing ovation just for walking to the plate in the second inning. But after the final out in the ninth, many of the folks left in the joint stood and booed.

• One ominous sign: After the game, more than one player confided that some finger-pointing has begun in the clubhouse.

• One upside: Jose Tabata smacked his first homer, a solo shot to left field in the eighth inning. Tabata nodded when I asked if he got the ball as a keepsake. What about the critics who say Tabata won’t ever flash much power? “We’ll see,” Tabata said, grinning.

• Alvarez went 0 for 2, with a walk and one run scored. He was charged with an error in the ninth when he failed to snag the low throw from catcher Ryan Doumit as Andruw Jones stole third base. Jones scored on the error.

“His at-bats were OK. He tracked the ball well,” manager John Russell said. “Third base, it’s going to take a little bit of an adjustment to this level. He had some tough balls hit to him and the tough throw he had to try to block. Overall, he looked pretty confident.”

• Seriously, six errors? That’s what happens when one-third of your lineup was in the minors just weeks ago. “There are going to be some (rough) games,” Russell said. “They’re young, they’re going to make a few mistakes. You have to move on. There’s going to be some development still at this stage. There’s going to be some anxiety in the field, and they have to fight through that. There’s going to be some times when it doesn’t look too good, but there will be plenty of times when it looks real good because they’re very talented athletes.”

• Zach Duke gave up three runs in the fourth inning and two in the sixth. Middle-inning struggles have been a problem him past few starts. “His pitches aren’t as sharp,” Russell said. “He’s not getting the ball down like he does in the first few innings. The big innings continue to get him because he’s not effectively getting the ball down where he needs to.”

• The White Sox will start lhp Mark Buehrle (4-6, 4.93) on Thursday instead of RHP Jake Peavy.