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Bucs' starter searches for answers after loss


Bucs' starter searches for answers after loss
Jeff Karstens is not sure what to fix because he does not yet know what is broken.

It could be mechanical. Could be mental. A delivery flaw? Position on the rubber? Pitch selection? Self-confidence?

After absorbing a 5-0 drubbing Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds, Karstens' second rough outing in a row, the Pirates right-hander is searching for clues.

"I've got to take a look at everything," Karstens said, "and evaluate myself more than anything."

Karstens labored through five innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits. He walked four and struck out one.

"He left too many balls over the plate, missed his spots, had trouble getting the ball down," manager John Russell said.

Karstens faced 23 batters and threw 95 pitches, only 53 of them for strikes. He had three-ball counts on the first three batters of the game.

"I was just a little bit of all over the place," Karstens said. "I looked up at the pitch total at one point and it was like 28 strikes, 25 balls ? that's never good."

In the second inning, Karstens fell behind 2-1 against Jay Bruce, who then whacked a solo home run to right field.

In the third, Karstens issued back-to-back, full-count walks to Chris Dickerson and Joey Votto. With two outs, Bruce walked on four pitches.

Ramon Hernandez hit a liner over the head of right fielder Brandon Moss. Three runs scored, though Hernandez was thrown out at second.

In the fifth, Karstens got two quick outs before Votto singled. Votto went to second on a passed ball and scored on Brandon Phillips' single to left.

"I'm kind of lost right now," Karstens admitted. "I feel real out of sync. It feels like things aren't clicking right now.

"There are good little stretches and then one bad inning. I never feel like I have a horrible, horrible complete outing. It seems like it's one bad inning every time that's getting me."

During spring training, Karstens switched to more of an over-the-head delivery. He said the new motion is not the problem.

"I'm still going over my head ? as of now," Karstens said.

It did not sound like a solid endorsement.

"I'm going to talk to Joe (Kerrigan, pitching coach) about it tomorrow and go over some things," Karstens said. "Out of the windup, statistically, I'm a lot better than I am out of the stretch. The three runs they scored in the third inning were out of the stretch. Hopefully, we can tinker with that and get it right."

The Pirates need more than just a tune-up for Karstens; they need to jump-start their offense, too. Yesterday was the third time they were shut out in four games.

Righty Johnny Cueto (2-1) was dominant, allowing four hits ? all singles ? in eight innings. Cueto walked one and struck out nine.

"He was mixing it in and out and kept us off balance," outfielder Nyjer Morgan said. "The boys were ready to go. (Cueto) just had the upper hand today."

Morgan singled leading off the game, but then was caught stealing. It was the closest the Pirates would get to putting a runner on second base.

Andy LaRoche dribbled a two-out, infield single in the second. Nate McLouth singled to begin the seventh, but Adam LaRoche grounded into a double play.

Andy LaRoche singled again leading off the eighth. He still was standing at first base when the inning ended.

"When you don't get a runner to second base, the pitcher is doing a heck of a job," Russell said. "We couldn't get anything going. Cueto never gave us a chance."

How they scored

Reds second inning (Jeff Karstens pitching): Jay Bruce hit a solo home run (No. 6) to right field on a 2-1 pitch. Reds 1, Pirates 0

Reds third inning: With one out, Chris Dickerson walked. Joey Votto walked, Dickerson to second. With two outs, Bruce walked, loading the bases. Ramon Hernandez singled to right, Dickerson, Votto and Bruce scored, Hernandez thrown out at second, right fielder to second baseman to catcher to shortstop. Reds 4, Pirates 0

Reds fifth inning: With two outs, Votto singled to right. Passed ball, Votto to second. Brandon Phillips singled to left, Votto scored. Reds 5, Pirates 0


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 5, 2009

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