Pirates blow three-run lead, lose team-record 13th straight

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- No major-league team loses the way the Pittsburgh Pirates do, year in and year out. Still, not even the Pirates have known a losing streak this long.

The Pirates set a team record with their 13th consecutive defeat Wednesday night, blowing a three-run lead in the seventh inning and losing 4-3 to the Chicago White Sox.

Juan Uribe's bases-loaded triple keyed Chicago's four-run comeback. The Pirates put two runners on in the ninth against closer Bobby Jenks, but their best hitter, Jason Bay, struck out to end it.

"It's starting to get a little unbelievable," Bay said. "Until we get a lucky break, a lucky bounce, get off to a great start in a game, I don't know what the answer is. I know guys are pressing, because I know I am."

The Pirates, winless for more than two weeks, broke the modern-era (since 1900) club record of 12 straight losses set in 1939. The only longer losing streak in Pittsburgh's major-league history was a 23-game slide by the Alleghenies in 1890.

Until the current streak -- one that has all but assured them of a 14th consecutive losing season -- the Pirates had not lost more than 10 in a row in 38 years or more than 11 in a row in 51 years. Their current 13-year streak of losing seasons is the longest in the majors and three short of the Phillies' major-league record.

This record streak is visibly wearing on first-year manager Jim Tracy, who came out of spring training confident the Pirates were close to a turnaround -- even if they weren't a contender immediately.

"I've felt good about the effort of the club in a number of these games," Tracy said. "But it came down to them coming up with a big hit and we couldn't come up with that hit."

The White Sox, by contrast, are playing almost as well as the Pirates are playing poorly. With Scott Podsednik finishing off the seventh with a go-ahead RBI single, the World Series champions won their 11th in 12 games and 13th in 15 games. They are 12-2 in interleague play and have won their last eight series since dropping two of three to the Rangers from June 2-4.

For one of the few times in a skid that has seem them lose by six or more runs four times, the Pirates flirted with winning. Left-hander Paul Maholm took a 3-0 lead into the seventh after helping himself with two singles and his first career RBI.
Pittsburgh got solo home runs from Jose Bautista in the third and Jeromy Burnitz in the sixth.

But the White Sox -- held to three hits over the first six innings by Maholm (2-7) -- started the seventh with consecutive singles by Jermaine Dye, A.J. Pierzynski and Joe Crede to load the bases.

"The way we're playing lately, the last couple of weeks, we always think we can come back against anybody," manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Uribe then lined a shot past center fielder Bautista into right-center to clear the bases. Podsednik followed three batters later with his decisive single to right off Damaso Marte, one of four Pirates pitchers in the inning.

"We're ahead by three runs, then, before you blinked, it's single, single, single, triple, single. It just happened so fast," Bay said.

The Pirates' losing streak baffles Guillen.

"They have a pretty good young club, at least from what I see," Guillen said. "They're fun to watch. The guys from the bullpen come after you, the kid [Maholm] today threw it real well, and they have some great talent. They came right after one of the best relievers in the AL, they're not afraid and they play the game right."

The Pirates just don't win a lot.

Freddy Garcia (10-4) trailed 3-0 after giving up 10 hits in six innings but won his third in a row when the White Sox rallied in the seventh. He was coming off eight sharp innings Saturday in a 1-0 victory over the Cardinals.

"All you have to do is go deep into the game, because you know at some point in the game we're going to score some runs," Garcia said. "We can be down three, four runs, but we still come back to win games."

Agustin Montero, sent back to Triple-A after the game to clear a roster spot for right-hander Cliff Politte, followed Garcia with a scoreless seventh and Matt Thornton pitched the eighth. The White Sox bullpen has allowed only one run in 20 2/3 innings over six games.

Jenks worked the ninth for his 24th save in 25 opportunities, his 15th in a row and his second in two games.

With the count 1-2 on Bautista in the ninth, a fan ran onto the field from the left-field stands, tried to pull up second base and then leaped into it as if he was trying for a stolen base. He was hustled off the field before Bautista and Freddy Sanchez singled ahead of Bay's game-ending strikeout.

Pirates first baseman Craig Wilson left with a bruised left forearm after colliding with Tadahito Iguchi on an infield single in the sixth. He will have an MRI on Thursday.

Game notes
Bautista's homer was his ninth. Burnitz hit his 12th three innings after being booed loudly for grounding into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and third in the third. ... The Pirates had a 13-8 edge in hits but left 10 on base. ... Despite their hot streak, the White Sox are two games behind Detroit in the AL Central. The Tigers won their 11th in 12 games, beating the Astros 5-0. ... Pittsburgh is 1-10 against the AL. ... The Pirates' last victory was 9-7 over St. Louis on June 14. They
have lost 14 of 15. ... Garcia is 19-6 against the NL. ... Sanchez had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 12 games (19-of-48). ... Maholm is 0-4 against the AL and 5-4 against the NL in his brief career.