PITTSBURGH — The kid gloves are just about ready to come off Jon Gray. Good idea. At this point it's all the Colorado Rockies rookie pitcher can do to keep from tearing them apart.
The future of the Rockies' rebuilding staff battled through 4 1-3 innings in a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
The 24-year-old former first-round draft pick gave up three runs and seven hits. He was long gone by the time pinch-hitter Josh Harrison and Gregory Polanco delivered consecutive RBI-singles off Scott Oberg (3-3) in the eighth.
Manager Walt Weiss did, however, let Gray work through 89 pitches, higher than his initial 75-pitch allotment and a positive sign that Gray is getting close to being able to go deeper into games.
"It's a good learning experience," Gray said. "You just don't let it hang over you but, at the same time, learn something from it and that's what I'm trying to do. I thought today for the most part was better than the results, but it's baseball."
Gray did get a chance to flash some of the stuff that made him the third overall pick in the 2013 draft. The Pirates had the bases loaded in the third and a chance to break it open when Gray reared back and fired a 95 mph fastball by Neal Walker to end the threat. He left after surrendering a double to Polanco with one out in the fifth, but it was a marked improvement from his last start, when the New York Mets lit him up for seven runs in less than two innings.
"I was excited to go back out (for the fifth)," Gray said. "I just really wanted to keep the momentum going. I kind of double-guessed that pitch I threw (Polanco's double)."
Jose Reyes hit his third home run of the season for Colorado but was out at the plate to end the top of the eighth while trying to score on a shallow fly ball to right by Nolan Arenado. Carlos Gonzalez added his 31st homer but the Rockies dropped their sixth straight game to the Pirates at PNC Park.
Oberg issued consecutive one-out walks to Francisco Cervelli and Pedro Alvarez in the eighth to set up Pittsburgh's late rally, the first two runs given up by the Colorado bullpen in 18 2-3 innings.
RUN OUT TO DRY
A rare show of power by Reyes gave the Rockies life against Francisco Liriano in the fifth. His legs, however, couldn't quite deliver in the eighth. He singled to lead off the inning and was at third with one out when Arenado hit a sinking liner to Polanco in right field.
Polanco charged and threw a sizzling fastball to Cervelli, whose sweep tag was timed perfectly.
"I was glad he took off, it took a great throw by Polanco," Weiss said. "It was right on the money and it wasn't real deep but I thought certainly deep enough for Reyes to take a shot."
Rockies: 1B Justin Morneau was scheduled to play five innings Friday night for Double-A New Britain as he continues his slow return from concussion-like symptoms and a cervical neck strain. The 34-year-old four-time All-Star hasn't appeared in a Colorado uniform since going on the DL in May. ... Colorado called up LHP Jason Gurka and sent RHP Tommy Kahnle to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Pirates: RHP A.J. Burnett is scheduled to throw three innings off the mound Sunday as he continues his comeback from a flexor strain in his right elbow. Burnett worked some curveballs into the mix during a session in Miami on Thursday but manager Clint Hurdle said it's too early to tell when the 38-year-old will be available.
Pittsburgh's J.A. Happ will make his fifth start for the Pirates since coming over at the trade deadline from Seattle. The 31-year-old is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA with Pittsburgh and is 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in four career appearances against Colorado. Rockies starter Chris Rusin is coming off the worst performance of his career, giving up 11 runs and 12 hits in a loss to the New York Mets on Aug. 22.
Follow Will Graves at http://www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP