You have to like Clint Hurdle's attitude. "I've heard people say that we have to hold fast, hold on. That's not what we have to do at all. We have to push forward. We're 12 games over .500. We've got to keep pushing."

That's easy for Hurdle to say, but a lot harder for his Pirates to do now that they are without four-fifths of their season-opening rotation, including their top two guys, A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez.

Not that Hurdle wanted to hear that Saturday after the Pirates lost, 5-3, in 11 innings to the Los Angeles Dodgers at PNC Park.

"We worked hard in the spring to build up our depth. Next man up. It's not pressure. It's opportunity."
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"Absolutely," Hurdle said, fairly growling.

Brandon Cumpton became the 11th pitcher to start a game this season for the Pirates Saturday and made his big league debut. On paper, it was a silly mismatch, Cumpton against the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, the 2011 National League Cy Young Award winner and, arguably, the best left-hander in baseball. But Cumpton gave the Pirates a chance to win.

"He matched [Kershaw] through five innings," Hurdle said. "It looked like he'd been there before. He hit the glove very well. At the end of the day, he missed some spots in the sixth and got the ball up."

Cumpton struck out the side in the first, struck out two more in the second and pitched three no-hit innings. He must have thought the big leagues were easy. But the Dodgers began to figure him out the second time through their lineup and roughed him up for two runs the third time through in the sixth to take a 3-1 lead. Hurdle got him out after five-plus innings and called his work "a really professional job." But it's hard to say Cumpton deserves another start Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds. Hurdle refused to say that, actually.

The Pirates would love to start Burnett, but he's on the disabled list with what could be a serious right calf injury and figures to miss more than just 15 days. That's his push-off leg and pitchers need their legs to be successful. The injury should give pause to those who are in a hurry to give Burnett a contract extension. He is 36 and could be starting to break down.

Hurdle also would prefer to give the ball to Rodriguez, but he's on the disabled list with forearm tightness. Rodriguez, who left his start against the Atlanta Braves June 5 in the first inning, had hoped to pitch through the pain but had a setback a week ago working out in Chicago.