PITTSBURGH - The Pirates might be on a death march to 100 losses, but at least on this desultory evening at PNC Park, they showed some fight as they rallied from a late four-run deficit to force extra innings Monday.
Ultimately, though, the result was the same as it usually is for the Pirates as Chase Headley's single in the 11th drove in the tie-breaking run in a five-run 11th inning, giving the San Diego Padres an 11-6 victory.
The loss was the Pirates' 20th in their last 23 games, dropping them to 56-92. They will have to split their final 14 games in order to avoid the eighth 100-defeat season in franchise history and the first since 2001.
Headley's double to right field off Jeff Karstens (3-5) was his career-high fifth of the game. Oscar Salazar broke the game open with a two-run double then Nick Hundley hit a sacrifice fly before Tony Gwynn capped the inning with an RBI single.
Karstens was charged with five runs in 1/3 of an inning. Sean Gallagher (2-0) got the win with one scoreless inning.
The Pirates' comeback was as stunning as their loss was deflating. Things seemed hopeless after reliever Jesse Chavez gave up three runs on a pair of home runs in the top of the eighth as Headley hit a solo shot and Nick Hundley added a two-run blast to put the Padres up by four.
Tonight: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:05 p.m.
Pitching matchup: Reds RHP Justin Lehr (4-2) vs. Pirates LHP Zach Duke (10-14)
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However, the Pirates came back with three in the bottom of the eighth to make it a one-run game. The first run scored when shortstop Everth Cabrera booted a ground ball by Ronny Cedeno. Andrew McCutchen then drove a two-run double to the gap in right-center to make it a one-run game.
Left-hander Joe Thatcher came in from the bullpen and struck out Garrett Jones with a man on second to end the threat and preserve the Padres' one-run lead. but the Pirates tied it in the ninth against closer Heath Bell, who blew his sixth save in 45 opportunities.
Singles by Ryan Doumit and Lastings Milledge and a walk to Steve Pearce, who battled from an 0-2 hole, loaded the bases with none out. Delwyn Young hit into a fielder's choice in which pinch runner Brian Bixler was forced out at home, but Cedeno's slow grounder allowed Milledge to score the tying run as second baseman David Eckstein's only play was at second base.
However, Bell escaped the jam by getting pinch-hitter Jason Jaramillo to hit a comebacker to the mound.
Few people saw the Pirates' comeback and ultimate loss as the announced attendance was 12,566, though that constituted the number of tickets sold, per Major League Baseball policy. A person with knowledge of the turnstile count declined to give the exact figure but said it was "slightly less than 5,000."
Pirates rookie right-hander Daniel McCutchen (0-3) turned in a quality start as he allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings with one walk and no strikeouts.
Young broke a 0-for-27 slump that dated almost three weeks to Sept. 1 with a sixth-inning single, then added a double in the eighth. Young was making his first start since Sept. 11 as he had been limited to pinch hitting because of lower back spasms.
Jones became just the fourth Pirates rookie to hit 20 home runs in a season when he connected in the bottom of the first off LeBlanc. Jason Bay hit 26 in 2004 and Johnny Rizzo (1938) and Ralph Kiner each had 23.
Doumit had three hits for the Pirates, and McCutchen and Milledge had two each.
Adrian Gonzalez hit his 39th homer for the Padres, a two-run shot in the first that opened the scoring. Jones countered with his homer in the bottom of the first to cut the Pirates' deficit to 2-1.
Salazar hit an RBI single in the third for San Diego. The Pirates scored a run in the sixth on a wild pitch by Ryan Webb.