PITTSBURGH (AP) - Derrek Lee has played in just three games with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the veteran first baseman believes he already has a fairly good feel for his new teammates.
He thinks they're pressing.
``I think these guys are tight a little bit,' said Lee, acquired from Baltimore in a trade last Saturday. ``I think they feel the excitement of this city and all the support they're getting and really want to please everyone. It's only natural, but we'll figure it out.'
The Pirates, who have had 18 consecutive losing seasons, need to figure it out soon. They continued their freefall out of the National League Central race on Wednesday night with a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Matt Garza (5-8) pitched seven shutout innings and Starlin Castro homered to lead the Cubs to their first four-game winning streak of the season and send the Pirates to their sixth straight loss, matching a season high set from May 10-16. Pittsburgh has also lost eight of nine and 11 of 14 to fall under .500 at 54-55.
The Pirates led the division following games of July 24 but are now 6 1/2 games behind first-place Milwaukee.
Despite seeing his team get shut out for the ninth time this season and waste seven scoreless innings by starter Charlie Morton, Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle was encouraged.
``I thought we played a clean game, the focus was good, we were ready every pitch, we were ready to go,' Hurdle said. ``You think it gets hard, it gets a little harder. You've just got to keep playing and you've got to just keep doing the things that are important us to win the ballgame.'
Castro's solo homer leading off the eighth inning was enough for Garza, who combined on a four-hit shutout with Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol, who worked the ninth for his 22nd save.
Castro hit a full-count pitch over the left-field fence off Chris Resop (3-3) for his fourth home run of the season. The shortstop went 3 for 4 and is 9 for 14 in the first three games of the four-game series.
Garza was lifted after walking pinch-hitter Matt Diaz to start the eighth. He allowed four hits, walked two and struck out seven for his first win in seven starts.
``All his pitches were working,' Lee said. ``He really had command of his fastball and slider's always good. He pitches inside and he never lets anybody get comfortable. He pitched a good game.'
Marshall retired all three batters he faced in relief of Garza, leaving pinch-runner Xavier Paul stranded at second base when Neil Walker hit an inning-ending lineout. Marmol hit Lee with a pitch to start the ninth but escaped by striking out the final two batters.
Morton allowed five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He has a 1.97 ERA in nine starts against NL Central opponents this season.
Morton was ripped for eight runs in four innings in a loss at Philadelphia last Friday then worked on ironing out some problems with his mechanics with pitching coach Ray Searage before Wednesday's start.
``It was throwing pitches with conviction and trusting my stuff,' Morton said of pitching past the sixth inning for the first time in nine starts. ``The mechanical stuff, I think, helped a little bit. I felt it was a little easier to throw strikes.'
Pedro Alvarez had two of Pittsburgh's four hits but struck out in a nine-pitch at-bat against Marmol in the ninth inning with one out and a runner on second. The Pirates were shut out for the ninth time.
The Cubs' Carlos Pena reached base in all four plate appearances with two doubles and two walks. Darwin Barney also had two hits. Castro, Pena and Barney combined for all seven Chicago hits, while the rest of the lineup went 0 for 22.
Chicago right fielder Tyler Colvin and manager Mike Quade were ejected by plate umpire Bob Davidson in the middle of the fifth inning. Colvin got a quick thumb for arguing a called third strike on the inside corner from Morton and Quade got tossed after coming out from the dugout to argue.
Garza had been winless in his last six starts, going 0-2 despite a 3.92 ERA as the Cubs scored a total of eight runs in those games.
``Matt Garza deserved this win,' Quade said. He had it coming,'
Notes: Pittsburgh activated C Ryan Doumit from the 60-day DL and optioned C Eric Fryer to Triple-A Indianapolis. Doumit, who had been out since severely spraining his left ankle on May 29 in a home plate collision, struck out as a pinch-hitter to end the game. ... Pirates LF Jose Tabata, on the DL with a left quadriceps strain, is scheduled to run the bases Thursday. He could begin a minor-league injury rehabilitation assignment sometime this weekend. ... Colvin is expected to see the majority of playing time in right field for the remainder of the season, though Quade stopped short of anointing him the full-time starter. Colvin has a .127 batting average in 110 at_bats but hit a long home run into the Allegheny River in Tuesday night's 11-6 victory over Pittsburgh. ... The season series is even at 6-6. ... RHP James McDonald (7-5, 4.17) will start for the Pirates against RHP Rodrigo Lopez (2-3, 440) in Thursday night's series finale. McDonald is 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA in 10 home starts while Lopez is 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA in eight games, including two starts, on the road.
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