Andrew McCutchen hit a home run but that was all the offense the sloppy Pittsburgh Pirates generated Wednesday night in an 8-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
McCutchen opened the scoring with a two-out solo shot to left field in the third inning, his sixth home run of the season. However, it was all Rays after that as they scored four unearned runs off Mitch Keller while sending the Pirates to their season-high third loss in a row.
The Rays (25-6) have the best record in the major leagues and have won five of their last six games and 11 of 14. The Pirates (20-11) had won 11 of 12 games before their skid.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton was ejected in the third inning by third base umpire Adrian Johnson for arguing a pitch clock issue.
Errors by Pirates middle fielders fueled a three-run third and a two-run fifth that put the Rays ahead 5-1.
Shortstop Rodolfo Castro booted Harold Ramirez’s two-out grounder in the third inning, allowing Yandy Diaz to score the tying run. The Rays then went up 3-1 when Brandon Lowe followed by lining a two-run double to center field.
In the fifth, second baseman Ji Hwan Bae’s three-run throwing error on Wander Franco’s chopper enabled Francisco Mejia to score. Ramirez then singled home Franco to make it 5-1.
Keller (3-1) was charged with five runs – only one earned – in five innings. He struck out eight and walked one while having his streak of five straight starts pitching at least six innings ended.
Bae did shine offensively as he went 2 for 3 with a walk and two stolen bases, raising his season total to 13. The Pirates have stolen a base in nine straight games, their longest since a 14-game streak in 1998.
Bryan Reynolds doubled to extend his overall hitting streak to eight games and his extra-base hit streak to six games.
The Rays’ Josh Lowe crushed a 455-foot solo home run to right field in the sixth off rookie lefty Jose Hernandez, stretching the lead to 6-1. Another Pirates rookie reliever, Cody Bolton, surrendered a leadoff homer to Franco in the seventh and an RBI double to Luke Raley in the eighth.
Lefty Shane McClanahan (6-0) limited the Pirates to one run and five hits in six innings while striking out nine and walking two. Chase Anderson finished with three scoreless innings for the save after being acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in a minor-league trade prior to the game.
The Pirates had won their last six games against left-handed starters.
Diaz and Franco had two hits each for the Rays. Franco also scored three runs and drove in two.
The Pirates will try to avert a sweep when the three-game series ends at 1:10 p.m. Thursday with Vince Velasquez (4-2, 3.06) starting against Zach Eflin (3-0, 3.00). Velazquez has won four straight starts and has an 18-inning scoreless streak.