ATLANTA (AP) - After winning his first two starts, Randall Delgado has hit a tough stretch for the Atlanta Braves.
Delgado gave up four runs before leaving in the fifth inning and the Braves lost to Erik Bedard and the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Saturday night.
Delgado (2-2) gave up eight hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings, leaving his ERA at 6.30. He has allowed a combined nine runs in his last two games, both losses, after the encouraging start to his second season.
``Location,' Delgado said. ``Fastball command. My change-up, too.
``I was trying to keep the ball down but I was a little bit off the plate. I was leaving the ball a little bit up.'
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he is trying to remain patient with Delgado, only 22.
``We're trying to keep running him out there, trying to get him through some stuff,' Gonzalez said. ``He just couldn't get it going today. Couldn't get his breaking pitches over.
``The little that I know him from last year and this year, he's going to be OK. He's going to use these last two outings as experience and keep going forward.'
Delgado was 1-1 with a 2.83 ERA in his seven starts in his debut last season.
Alex Presley had two hits to extend his career-best hitting streak to 12 games for Pittsburgh. He scored two runs and drove in a run with a double. Pedro Alvarez also had a run-scoring double.
Bedard (1-4) gave up only one run in five innings. The left-hander struck out nine while giving up five hits and two walks. He has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his five starts.
``Bedard kept us off balance,' said Braves shortstop Tyler Pastornicky. ``He mixed his pitches up well and hit all his spots.'
Jason Grilli struck out the side in the eighth and Joel Hanrahan added two strikeouts in a perfect ninth for his fourth save. The game ended when right fielder Jose Tabata made a leaping catch at the wall of pinch-hitter Eric Hinske's drive.
The Pirates scored a total of two runs with Bedard on the mound in his first four starts - the majors' lowest run support for a pitcher. They topped that by taking a 3-0 lead in the first two innings.
``It feels good,' Bedard said after his first win with the Pirates. ``When you can get up early, it helped out.
``Hopefully it keeps coming.'
Presley led off the game with a single and scored from third on Garrett Jones' flyball to center field. Presley's second-inning double into the left field corner drove in Rod Barajas, who singled. Tabata's single to right drove in Presley for a 3-0 lead.
Martin Prado doubled in the third inning and scored on Dan Uggla's two-out single for the Braves' first run.
The Pirates knocked Delgado out of the game in the fifth with back-to-back doubles by Neil Walker and Alvarez, pushing the lead to 4-1.
Bedard struck out Freddie Freeman and Uggla with runners on second and third to end the fifth.
The Braves scored a run off Chris Resop in the sixth when Jason Heyward doubled, stole third and scored on Juan Francisco's grounder to first. Heyward has eight steals.
After Pastornicky singled and advanced to third when the ball skipped past Tabata for an error, pinch-hitter Chipper Jones ended the inning with a grounder to second base.
Braves catcher Brian McCann, who left Friday night's game with a strained muscle in his right side, did not play. He said he felt better Saturday and hopes to play on Monday. Outfielder Matt Diaz was to be the emergency backup catcher to fill-in starter David Ross.
NOTES: Jones appeared in his 2,400th major league game, second on the Braves franchise list behind Hank Aaron (3,076). ... Bedard's 0.75 average run support per game before Saturday was the lowest in the major leagues. ... In a pregame ceremony, McCann (Silver Slugger award) and RHP Craig Kimbrel (NL Rookie of the Year and Braves player of the year by the Atlanta chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America) received 2011 awards. ... Braves RHP Tim Hudson will make his season debut on Sunday as he faces the Pirates' RHP Kevin Correia. Hudson is returning from offseason back surgery after making four rehab starts. ``Better late than never,' Hudson said Saturday. He was 16-10 with a 3.22 ERA in 2011.
The Associated Press News Service
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