Pittsburgh went scoreless for 25 consecutive innings before getting on the board during an 8-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday afternoon.
The Pirates are on their longest losing streak since June of last year, when they also dropped nine straight
"We've got to figure out a way to pull ourselves out of this," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said
The Pirates started this season on fire, going 20-9 with a 3.55 ERA through the end of April. However, the pitching slipped in May as Pittsburgh went 8-18 with a 4.49 ERA. In June, the Pirates are 6-12 with a 5.54 ERA so far
"This is a hard moment for our team," Pirates first baseman Carlos Santana said
The Pirates clearly miss dynamic shortstop Oneil Cruz, who hasn't played since April 9 due to a fractured left fibula that will keep him out until August
As a rookie last year, the strong-armed Cruz slugged 17 homers and stole 10 bases in just 87 games.
Still, even without Cruz, the Pirates held onto first place in the National League Central until losing their grip last Friday
The strength of the Pirates team can be found at closer, where David Bednar, a Pittsburgh native, is having a career year at 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 14 saves
On Thursday, the Pirates will start their ace, right-hander Mitch Keller (8-3, 3.62 ERA). He was the last Pittsburgh pitcher to win a game, when he beat the New York Mets 2-1 on June 11
Keller, 27, is 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA in four career starts against the Marlins, and he got a win last year in his lone start t Miami. A second-round draft pick in 2014 who made his big-league debut in 2019, Keller is enjoying his best season
Miami will counter Keller with Braxton Garrett (3-2, 3.88 ERA). The 25-year-old left-hander, who is in his fourth major league season, has made 13 starts this year, four short of his career high established in 2022. He has never won more than three games in a season.
In two career games against the Pirates, Garrett is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA
Miami enters Thursday on a two-game losing streak after winning five straight contests.
The Marlins are led by Luis Arraez, who is bidding for his second straight batting title. He leads the majors with a .398 average, and he tops National League second basemen in All-Star voting
Arraez went 2-for-5 on Wednesday as the Marlins fell 6-3 to the visiting Toronto Blue Jays in the rubber game of a three-game series
Toronto scored five runs in the second inning, but Miami got back into the game thanks to a two-run double from Garrett Cooper in the fourth inning and an RBI single from Garrett Hampson in the seventh.
"Proud of the guys, how they came back down 5-0," Miami manager Skip Schumaker said. "We had a chance almost every inning after that. They made some good pitches when they had to, got out of some jams with the hitters we wanted (up) at the time."
Miami is waiting for center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. to return from turf toe on his right foot.
Chisholm, who hasn't played in the majors since May 13, averaged 16 homers and 17.5 steals over the previous two years -- numbers he amassed in just 184 total games.
He started a minor league rehab assignment on Tuesday, going 0-for-2 with a walk, and his return to Miami appears to be imminent.
The Marlins are also hoping to get starting third baseman Jean Segura (left hamstring strain) back in a couple of weeks
--Field Level Media