The reigning National League MVP is expected to be activated off the disabled list Tuesday. Just in time. His team is reeling.
Vance Worley allowed six first-inning runs and the Pittsburgh Pirates lost their season-high sixth consecutive game, 7-3 to the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.
“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing,” Pirates second baseman Neil Walker said. “We went through these tough stretches in April and early May and we’ve played really good baseball up until this last week. We’re still the same team.”
Not without Andrew McCutchen. Pittsburgh is 5-9 since losing its team leader in home runs and RBI and the NL leader in on-base percentage. The Pirates have fallen two games out of a wild-card spot and six out of the NL Central lead.
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McCutchen (left rib fracture) took live batting practice prior to the game and afterward said he was “good to go.” He has not played since Aug. 3.
Starling Marte went deep twice, and Walker added a homer that became the first to reach the Allegheny River beyond right field at PNC Park this season.
Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons started the game with the Braves’ fifth set of back-to-back home runs this season, and it got worse from there for Worley (5-3).
Chris Johnson and Gerald Laird had run-scoring singles as Atlanta bolted to a 6-0 lead.
“I know we didn’t score a whole lot the rest of the way,” said Heyward, who had had three hits and a sacrifice fly. “But still, that’s a lot of pressure for a team to come back against.”
Worley managed to pitch six innings and was charged with five earned runs.
He allowed nine hits, struck out four and walked two.
“After (the first inning), I figured it out,” Worley said. “It clicked, I was able to drive the ball down in the zone and get the results that I needed.”
The early outburst was enough for Ervin Santana (13-6), who allowed three solo homers among nine hits.
Atlanta has won four straight, moving past Pittsburgh in the wild-card standings.