Pitching has been the bane of the Phillies' existence as of late and it was again in Thursday's sweltering heat, though with a different twist.

After the bullpen's implosion Wednesday, starter Kyle Kendrick didn't help the cause Thursday, allowing five first-inning runs en route to a 5-4 loss to the Pirates.

Kendrick steadied after the inning, logging six scoreless frames, but the damage was already too much. Back-to-back home runs from Pirates first baseman Casey McGehee (three-run shot) and third baseman Pedro Alvarez (solo homer) highlighted the charge.

Kendrick lasted seven innings, giving up six hits five runs — all earned. He struck out six.

"(The first inning) kind of took a little starch out of us early," manager Charlie Manuel said. "But he hung in there and he battled. He held us right there, but we couldn't catch up to them."

Kendrick (2-8) has lost his last four decisions, which ties a career-long losing streak that he set earlier this season. He's also allowed five or more earned runs this year in five of his 12 starts.

A.J. Burnett (9-2), who tossed 6.2 innings, giving up three runs and striking out seven, earned the win for Pittsburgh (40-35). Burnett has won eight-straight decisions.

The Phillies (36-42) head to Miami coming off a 10-game homestand that many saw as a chance to spark a win streak, but the stretch only rendered a 5-5 record.