PITTSBURGH - When Erik Bedard's breaking ball behaves, the left-hander has the kind of stuff that once made him one of the most promising pitchers in all of baseball.
When it doesn't, it looks an awful lot like the fourth inning of Pittsburgh's 6-5 loss to San Francisco on Friday night.
The Giants sent 10 men to the plate to erase a three-run deficit and chase Bedard on their way to ending the Pirates' four-game winning streak. Bedard (4-10) fell to 2-6 with a 6.31 ERA in his last 10 starts after failing to get through four innings for the fourth time this season.
"I just threw pitches and they hit it," Bedard said. "I didn't feel any different, they were hitting the pitches."
The Pirates signed Bedard in the offseason hoping the 33-year-old could overcome the nagging injuries that have dogged him in recent years. He insisted he just wanted to pitch in, but looked like a No. 1 starter over the season's first six weeks.
The pinpoint control didn't translate into wins, however, as Pittsburgh's offense seemed to disappear whenever Bedard took the hill. The Pirates have the National League's best offense since June 1, but Bedard hasn't been able to take advantage.
Today: San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh?Pirates, 4:05 p.m.
Pitching matchup: Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong (7-3) vs. Pirates RHP James McDonald (8-3)
"We'll look at the tape and try to get things figured out over the [All-Star] break," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
The veteran left-hander has been shaky over the last two months while battling control issues. He's been steady at home - coming in with a 2-2 record and a 2.31 ERA - and looked to be ready for a bounce-back performance while cruising through the first three innings.
Then, the bottom fell out.
Justin Christian led off the fourth with a walk, came home on a double by Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera followed with a two-run shot to left. Buster Posey walked on four pitches and Pablo Sandoval scratched out an infield hit before Bedard could record a single out.
The Giants pushed two more runs across the plate on an RBI single by Sanchez and an error by Pittsburgh shortstop Josh Harrison that brought home Sandoval as San Francisco jumped ahead 5-3.
Hurdle removed Bedard in favor of Chris Resop, who managed to get out a jam before more damage was done. Bedard gave up five runs, four earned in 3 2-3 innings, walking three and striking out one as his ERA moved to 4.80 - the highest it has been all season.
"It was just a bad inning all around," Hurdle said.
And it was just enough for the Giants to snap a three-game slide.
Barry Zito (7-6) survived five eventful innings as the Giants snapped a three-game losing streak. Sergio Romo worked the ninth for his fifth save while subbing for regular closer Santiago Casilla.
"Z was frustrated, his offspeed pitches, he wasn't getting it where he wanted, but he helped limit the damage and helped us win a ballgame," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said.
Andrew McCutchen had three hits for the Pirates to raise his batting average to a National League-leading .360. Pedro Alvarez and Casey McGehee added solo homers.
"We're a resilient team," Alvarez said. "Even though we had a rough inning, we played good baseball."
The Giants have slumped since surging to the top of the National League West last week, losing five of six. The offense has sputtered while the pitching hasn't been much help. San Francisco surrendered 24 runs while getting swept in Washington earlier in the week, including a 6-5 victory Thursday in which the Giants squandered a four-run lead.
There would be no collapse Friday after San Francisco jumped on the slumping Bedard.
"After a tough series in Washington, one of our harder losses that we've had all year last night, flying in here, that's a great way to bounce back," Bochy said.
Unlike Thursday's meltdown against the Nationals in which San Francisco's bullpen wobbled, this time the Giants closed it out to blunt some of Pittsburgh's momentum.
Romo, filling in while Casilla got the night off to let a blister on his right (pitching) hand heal, retired the side in order, getting McCutchen to ground out to third to end it and stifle the "MVP!" chants the All-Star center fielder gets every time he steps to the plate.
NOTES: The series continues Saturday as Pittsburgh's James McDonald (8-3, 2.45 ERA) faces San Francisco's Ryan Vogelsong (7-3, 2.26). ... Pittsburgh relievers Chris Leroux and Doug Slaten cleared waivers Friday and were optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis.