The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

September 14, 2013

Grilli falters in Pirates loss

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's plan for Jason Grilli is simple as the All-Star closer works his way back from a strained right forearm. Not even a dip in the road like the one Grilli endured Friday night in a 5-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs is going to change it."We've got to keep getting him out there on somewhat of a consistent basis if we want to get him better," Hurdle said. "He's not going to get better not pitching."

Trying to protect a one-run lead in the seventh in his first true pressure situation since returning from the disabled list last week, Grilli (0-2) surrendered a towering two-run homer to Anthony Rizzo that ended up snapping Pittsburgh's four-game winning streak.

Grilli struck out the first two batters he faced in the seventh before walking Luis Valbuena on a borderline 3-2 pitch. Grilli hopped in frustration after the pitch was ruled a ball. All he could do was look down in disgust when Rizzo broke out of a long slump and sent an 83 mph slider over the stands in right to put Chicago in front to stay.

"He threw me a slider down and in, a pretty good pitch, and I tried to just put a good swing on the ball and not try to do too much," Rizzo said.

Brian Bogusevic went 3 for 4 with his fifth homer of the season for Chicago. Dioner Navarro added two hits.

Carlos Villanueva (6-8) picked up the win in relief. Kevin Gregg earned his 32nd save when Neal Walker's shot to center with one on in the ninth died at the warning track.

Pedro Alvarez, Russell Martin and Garrett Jones hit consecutive solo home runs in the fourth for Pittsburgh. Andrew McCutchen went 2 for 4, but the Pirates lost for just the fourth time in 65 games when leading after six innings this season after Grilli faltered.

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