As we've said before, Zach Duke needs airtight defense to win games. And tonight, one of the Buc's stalwarts with a glove, Nate McLouth, let Duke down.
Brian Giles lined one into center. McLouth took a step in, then reversed his field and had the ball in his sights. But it ticked off of the heel of his mitt and eventually led to two scores. And in a 6-5 game, that's a lotta runs.
Pittsburgh also had its share of misdadventures on the basepaths at PNC (and amazingly, Ryan Doumit wasn't involved!) Freddie Sanchez was thrown out at home by a goodly margin in the third...ooops, it was on Doumit's double. He still got under the tag, but as we all know, the ump will make the automatic out call in that situation 99 times out of 100. And he did.
In the sixth, the Pirates had no one to blame but themselves. With runners on first and third and one away, Chris Gomez singled home a run. But dirtdog Doug Mientkiewicz was thrown out trying to reach third, and then Gomez was caught as he headed towards second. It was an ugly way to end a rally, especially from two of the more veteran players on the roster.
The Pirates also loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth but only managed one run, on pinch-hitter Jose Bautista's two-out, full-count walk. Adam LaRouche, who launched a pair of homers, K'd, and Mientkiewicz lined out to center before him. Jack Splat ended the inning with a pop out.
They looked a lot like the Pirates of May, and that's not a good sign. Maybe watching Xavier Nady get pulled from the batter's circle and teammates exchanging hugs with Damaso Marte as he took his last stroll through the dugout took the steam out of them. We hope the emotional let down doesn't linger.