Unit struggles, seethes in loss to Bucs

Unit struggles, seethes in loss to Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates lefty Zach Duke out-dueled D-backs veteran lefty Randy Johnson, and Pittsburgh defeated Arizona, 5-3, on Monday afternoon at PNC Park.

A crowd of 10,717 watched the Pirates send Arizona to its second straight defeat and gain a split in the four game series.

Johnson tossed 5 2/3 innings and surrendered five runs (four earned) on six hits and allowed five walks. He took the loss, falling to 4-3 on the season.

"[Johnson] looked pretty good, and then the one inning it looked like he got a little tired," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said.

"Pitching with people on base and not getting ahead in the count and walking the five people that I did -- I think four of them ended up scoring," Johnson said. "That's really the story there. I'm not really sure why that happened. It was just a game that is hopefully out of my system and I'll get back to pitching the way I have been. It's been a pretty bad road trip for me, personally. I need to get back to doing the things that will allow us to win on the days that I pitch."

Pittsburgh got a solid start from Duke, who went six-plus innings and gave up two runs on five hits. With the victory, Duke evened his record at 4-4.

The D-backs thought they had jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning, when Mark Reynolds lofted a fly ball toward the right-field bleachers before a fan reached out and caught the ball. The Pirates argued that the fan reached into the field of play and that the ball would have hit the fence and not been a home run. After Pittsburgh manager John Russell protested, the umpires ruled the hit a double and placed Reynolds on second.

Melvin then got into an argument with home-plate umpire Jeff Kellogg and wound up getting ejected from the game. It was the first time that Melvin has been ejected this season.

"They called it a home run and then pulled it back," Melvin explained. "They said that the fan reached over. My opinion was the first-base umpire got it right. The first-base umpire is closest to the play and my opinion was he got it right, and I didn't know why they overturned it."

"With everything that's been going on with those kinds of calls -- I'm not saying mine was a home run or it wasn't," Reynolds opined. "I don't know, but I think they need to get some kind of replay. Melvin went out to argue, and that took a couple of minutes and he got tossed out, and then they had a conference and that took forever and it would be just as quick to go checkout a monitor real quick and make a call. It's something I think they need to take a look at."

Melvin addressed the idea of instant replay.

"I think they are doing the right thing in taking a look at it in the fall league," Melvin stated. "I think if you're going to do it, you would do it just on those calls -- the home run calls."

Tempers flared again in the bottom of the third inning, when Doug Mientkiewicz stepped out and called time as Johnson was set to deliver a pitch. Johnson questioned the umpire and then start jawing with Mientkiewicz. Johnson came off the mound and moved toward Mietkiewicz, who went face-to-face with the pitcher as both benches emptied. No punches were thrown and order was restored.

Johnson apparently lost his concentration following the incident. He walked Mientkiewicz and was charged with an error on a Jose Bautista ground ball, placing runners at first and second. Catcher Miguel Montero was then charged with an error on a Duke bunt to load the bases. Johnson walked Luis Rivas, forcing in a run and putting the Pirates on top, 1-0.

Johnson regained his composure and got out of the inning with no further damage.

"I don't know really what was going on there," Johnson said. "I don't know what was going on at home plate -- he stepped out the first time, which was no problem. Then he said something to the catcher when he was stepping back in and then he looked at me and stepped out again -- so I'm not sure really what was going on.

"He stepped out twice and the umpire kind of agreed with me and said he's trying to speed the game up and that's all he's trying to do, and I'm ready to pitch, so get in there. It's really not the storyline; it didn't bother me at all. If it would've, he'd probably be on a stretcher and I'd be out of the game."

In the top of the fourth inning, Reynolds who has found his home run stroke of late, tied the game at 1 with his 14th home run of the campaign and his third round tripper in two games.

"I've seen [Reynolds] hotter," Melvin offered. "He's swinging the bat well right now and that's the way he goes. He'll go hot and cold, and right now, he's real hot."

Pittsburgh regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jason Michaels walked and went to third on a Mietkiewicz single. Michaels then scored on Bautista's sacrifice fly, giving the Pirates a 2-1 advantage.

The Pirates tacked on another run for a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning. Jack Wilson walked and stole second base before scoring on an RBI single by Xavier Nady.

Rivas smacked a sixth-inning RBI single increasing the Pirates lead to 4-1 and ending Johnson's afternoon. Wilson singled to right off reliever Juan Cruz, knocking in Rivas and upping the lead to 5-1.

The D-backs made it 5-2 in the top of the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Reynolds and Chris Young. They then sliced the lead to 5-3 when Stephen Drew homered off Damaso Marte to lead off the eighth inning.

"We fought back and had some opportunities," Melvin said. "That's the way it's been for a couple games."

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.