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Another late-season swoon lets the Pirates' losing streak live


PITTSBURGH (AP) (AP)ong> - The Pittsburgh Pirates insist they're headed in the right direction even after the franchise's record streak of consecutive losing seasons hit 20.

The Pirates finished 79-83, matching their best record in 20 years, but the players know they let a promising season slip away.

Manager Clint Hurdle pointed to the breakout season for All-Star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen, the pitching staff led by veteran A.J. Burnett and the maturation of third baseman Pedro Alvarez as positive developments.

Still, the team that preached finishing during spring training once again stumbled down the stretch. Pittsburgh was 16 games above. 500 and battling for a playoff spot in early August only to collapse over the season's final seven weeks as trade acquisitions Gaby Sanchez and Travis Snider failed to make an impact and the starting staff dealt with injuries and ineffectiveness.