The Pittsburgh Pirates need Giancarlo Stanton.

They have the starting pitching, even though right now they have an entire rotation on the disabled list. They have the bullpen, a key reason the Pirates lead the majors with 12 shutouts. They play excellent defense, especially with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte running everything down in the outfield.

What they don't do is score runs. Or enough of them.

This was evident in Wednesday's heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. A win would have moved the Pirates ahead of the Reds and into second place in the NL Central. The Pirates led 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth when Jay Bruce tagged Jason Grilli for a home run to tie the game, Grilli's first blown save. It was bound to happen at some point. Jeff Locke had delivered another shutdown start with seven scoreless innings -- his string of five scoreless outings in his past seven starts is a big reason the Pirates have managed through the current DL stints of A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez.

This is a better Pirates team than those of the past two seasons that toyed with the emotions of its fans by running into a half season of good luck. The results of this pitching staff aren’t a fluke like the 2011 and 2012 staffs.

This team can pitch.

But they need Giancarlo Stanton in the middle of this order to add a big bat behind McCutchen.