A couple of ghosts were exorcised at Great American Ball Park tonight by Phil Dumatrait.
First was his personal demon, his brief career in Cincinnati, where he went 0-4 with an ERA of 15.00. Not only did that September performance haunt him (he served up homers to the first three batters of the game in one forgettable start), but the Red management had so little faith in him that he was cut a month later. Bad on them, good for Pittsburgh.
And Matty Mo, the friendly ghost of Pirate pitching, was laid to rest. He was blocking Dumatrait from the rotation at the season's onset, but now his spot is in good hands. The Bucs have won 5 of the 6 games he's started since Morris has departed.
And the nine game home winning streak of the Reds had a stake driven through its' heart.
There are several story lines tonight - Jay Bay and the X-Man homered (we'll really miss them when they go), Pittsburgh banged out 13 hits (8 for extra bases), and the Bucs turned two double plays the hard way.
Raul Chavez gunned out a runner on a strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP, and Xavier Nady made a sliding grab in right and doubled off a wayward runner at second. In fact, the only 6-4-3 attempt the Pirates had went astray when Freddie Sanchez bounced his pivot throw into short right field to let in the first run.
But there is only one story tonight. Dumatrait went 7 innings, giving up 2 infield singles and an unearned run while striking out 9. Today's outing evened his record at 2-2 and dropped his ERA to 3.52. It's his second straight strong start since Chavez has become his personal caddy. And face it - he's now Pittsburgh's ace.
On the Pirate front: The Bucs called up Bryan Bullington from AAA Indy and optioned reliever Marino Salas back to the Indians.
Bullington, 27, was 3-6 with a 5.68 ERA after an absolutely brutal start at Indy. But he's won three of his past four outings and was just named International League pitcher of the week. Salas, 26, had a 7.00 ERA in seven outings with the big club.
The move was made to give the Pirate's bullpen a fresh arm after Ian Snell and Gorzo lasted a total of 4-2/3 innings over the past two nights.
>It looks like Nate the Great will return to the leadoff spot now that Jack Splat's back. That should really help fill in some holes in the lineup, at least until John Russell gets to the seven-eight spots. And it will look even better when Ryan Doumit returns, possibly in a couple of weeks.
On the minor league front: Andrew McCutcheon went 3 for 5 for Indy, and his average is now .304.
>2B Shelby Ford, 23,the Pirates' third-round pick in 2006, just came off the DL at Altoona. He missed 39 games with a hip flexor injury. Returning as a DH last night, he went 3 for 5 with three RBI and has a spiffy .368 batting average.
>Eric Krebs, a reliever at Lynchburg, was drilled in the head by a line drive Monday night. He's not thought to be seriously hurt, but will be laid up on the DL for several weeks while he recovers. RHP Krebs, 23, has a 2.87 ERA in 13 games for the Hillcats.
>Also at Lynchburg, DH Jamie Romak, 22, hit his 7th home run and went 3 for 5 with a double and two RBIs, raising his BA to .280.
On the ex-Pirate front: Jody Gerut hit a three-run, pinch-hit homer in the 8th inning last night to give the Padres a 5-2 victory. The oft injured OF played in 4 games for Pittsburgh in 2005 and just revived his MLB career at SD this season. He came to the Steel City from the Cubs in exchange for Matt Lawton.
>Rockies minor league catcher Humberto Cota was suspended for 50 games yesterday after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. He hasn't been on a major league roster since June 15, 2007, when he was released by the Pirates. Cota blamed a med that his doctors gave him during the off season to treat a bum shoulder as the cause for his positive drug test.
He was a Bucco from 2001-2007 and played in 196 games while hitting .233. The Pirates got him from Tampa in 1999 as part of the Jose Guillen deal.