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Pirates 5, Padres 4: Lauer better, defense not so much

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MLB: San Diego Padres at Pittsburgh Pirates
None of the people in this picture are responsible for the loss. It’s just funny.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Lauer’s line today doesn’t look so great on first glance. He gave up four earned runs on six hits and three walks in less than five innings. But there are two things that make it look much better. First, did you see his last start? It was monumentally bad. It didn’t even look like he was throwing batting practice; it was worse than that. But more importantly, three of those runs can be blamed on one lousy route from Franchy Cordero.

The game didn’t start out so bad. The Padres were the first team on the board in the third. Freddy Galvis led off with a single and moved into scoring position when Chad Kuhl threw four straight balls to Manuel Margot. A solid sacrifice bunt from Lauer moved both runners, setting up Travis Jankowski for his RBI single. A ground out by Eric Hosmer brought Margot home and put the Friars up 2-0.

Lauer got into a little bit of trouble in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, he gave Francisco Cervelli a free pass, and Josh Bell single set the table for Corey Dickerson. Dickerson lofted the ball into left field, where Cordero charged in for a catch... only to find himself three feet to the right of the ball. It rolled past him to give the Pirates a run instead of giving the Padres an out. David Freese turned what should have been the third out into a sacrifice fly to tie the game, and a double off the bat of Sean Rodriguez put Pittsburgh in front.

But Lauer wasn’t going down without a fight. In the fifth, he picked up his first big league hit, a one-out double to right field. Jankowski drew a walk to bring Hosmer to the plate, and he delivered with his 14th double of the year, scoring both runners. The Bucs tied things up in the bottom half of the inning with a couple singles and a walk, but Lauer bounced back admirably from his shelling last Friday to leave the game without a decision.

But the loss doesn’t even fall on the shoulders of Matt Strahm, who took the mound after the seventh inning stretch. Sure, Strahm gave up a leadoff double to Gregory Polanco, but he retired the next two batters while keeping Polanco from crossing the plate. But with Polanco on third and two outs, Freese grounded a screamer to Christian Villanueva, who put is glove in front of it but completely forgot to actually hold onto the ball. One unearned run was charged to Strahm... along with the loss.

Tyson Ross will try to even up the series tomorrow night. First pitch at 4:05 PM.