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Series Wrap-up, 4/23 - 4/25 @ HOU

For the second straight series, the Pirates were swept by a division rival. For the second straight series, the culprits were many: poor starting pitching, worse hitting and a tendency to unravel at the slightest sign of distress.

Notice a pattern?

The PBC dropped three games to the formerly last-place Astros over the weekend, 4-3, 5-2 and 10-3. The loss Friday was the first game all year the Pirates have dropped that was decided by two or fewer runs. But judging by the offense's output over the three games, there should be quite a bit more to come.

True, the Astros are a bad match-up for the Buccos, especially at Minute Maid Park, where the diamond-shaped field and speed of CF Michael Bourn can eliminate the ability of Pirates hitters to hit balls into the gap (the Pirates hit three homers in the series but only one double). But the Pirates collected only 11 hits combined between Friday and Saturday, and 21 of their 25 hits on the series were singles.

In the meantime, check out these OBPs for Pirates regulars: .289 (leadoff hitter Aki Iwamura); .283 (Ronny Cedeno); .257 (Lastings Milledge); and .220 (first baseman Jeff Clement, whose first stint in the NL isn't exactly going as planned).

The pitching was alright until Sunday, when Charlie Morton authored another disaster of an outing, going 3.0 innings and allowing 5 ER to lower his ERA to 16.20. Chris Jakubauskas, making his first start for the Pirates, was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Lance Berkman on Saturday, placing him on the disabled list. To give him a poor grade would be unfair, obviously, but it's not a stretch to say the team didn't exactly rally behind his unfortunate injury.

Expect more of the same in the coming series at Milwaukee, the nemesis who treated Pittsburgh to record thrashings last week. Hopefully the Buccos, now at 7-11, can stop the bleeding and earn their first win in Wisconsin since May 2007.