PITTSBURGH -- Great news for the Pirates' beleaguered lineup: It has just about run out of Cy Young Award-winning pitchers to be tormented by.With the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter out for the season and Zack Greinke out of Milwaukee, against whom the Bucs have three series remaining, the only possible Cy Young Award-certified pitcher left on the horizon is the Mets' Johan Santana. The Pirates will be in New York for their final road series of the season on Sept. 24-27. On Wednesday night, Dodgers left-handed ace Clayton Kershaw provided the season's 11th confrontation with a Cy Young Award pitcher, and the eighth the Pirates have lost, the second to the lefty who earned his award last season. The Tigers' Justin Verlander and the Giants' Barry Zito also two-timed the Pirates, who were also defeated by Roy Halladay and Greinke. Pittsburgh's Cy Young Award victims have been Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum and Santana. Despite the occasional abuse of a Cy arm -- the Bucs roughed up Lincecum for six runs on 3 1/3 innings on July 8, for instance -- the Pirates have batted .201 (55-for-274) in 11 run-ins with the elite pitchers. It's all part of the Major League challenge, reasons manager Clint Hurdle. "We dwelled a lot early in the season on having to deal with all these Cy Young Award pitchers. But you're going to have to keep facing them," Hurdle said. "They're not going anywhere."
"Hughes can stay even if Qualls returns." -- Manager Clint Hurdle's interesting, even if accidental, choice of words on the roster status of Jared Hughes, who was able to make a quick return from Triple-A Indianapolis as a replacement when Chad Qualls went on the bereavement list on Thursday
None of the three infielders has extensive experience at second base, but Jordy Mercer started Thursday's game there, because newcomer Yamaico Navarro was given some get-comfortable time and manager Clint Hurdle wanted to save Josh Harrison's versatility for the bench. This was the first big league appearance at second for Mercer, who has made 94 of his 493 Minor League appearances at the position. The Dodgers' streak of nine consecutive wins over the Pirates entering Thursday's game was the franchise's best since the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers beat the Bucs 13 straight times. Pedro Alvarez, who had to come off the bench after Neil Walker's first-inning injury on Wednesday and endured his first four-strikeout game of the season against lefty Clayton Kershaw, entered Thursday's game in a 69 at-bat homeless stretch dating back to July 23.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.