Hey, there's nothing to this winning thing. Get some pitching, hit three home runs every game, and it's simple as pie.
Tonight Paul Maholm took the honors on the mound. While the Buc bats were steadily chipping away at Astro call-up Jack Cassals, Maholm was breezing through the Houston lineup.
He went eight innings, giving up 1 run on 5 singles - and if Joey Bats doesn't let a DP ball bounce off of him, it's a shutout (Bautista also made an amazing play in the fourth, to even things out. Good Jose, bad Jose.) Maholm was laboring through the last couple of innings, and the last two batters he faced bounced balls off his wrist and leg.
Maholm finished 8 innings of work for the 6th time this season, the 3rd time in 4 starts this month, and is 5-1 in his past 6 decisions. Maholm is 7-6 on the season with a 3.92 ERA.
Sean Burnett closed out, and showed why John Russell still picks his spots for him. He hit a batter, threw a wild pitch, and had Ryan Doumit hopping all over the catcher's box spearing and blocking pitches. He got out of the ninth giving up a run, and that was plenty enough to seal the deal, an 8-2 Pittsburgh win.
Burny's got the stuff - he's throwing his heat at a respectable 91-92 MPH and his slider's quick and sharp - but his command has a long way to go before he earns Russell's confidence.
The offense was highlighted by Freddie Sanchez, Nate McLouth, and Doumit long balls. Doumit's dinger was crushed, almost landing in the Astro train running along the upper reaches of Minute Maid Park.
Now to see if Ian Snell, who's looked all-so-close to getting it together since coming off of the DL, can keep the strong pitching line going tomorrow afternoon.
On the Pirate front: As dramatic and dogged as the 2008 edition of the Bucs have been, the Pirates are actually pretty even in rally stats: Comeback Wins: 24, Blown Lead Losses: 22, Walk-off Wins: 6, Walk-off Losses: 5. Still, over half of their victories came while they were behind in the score.
> Yoslan Herrera is still here, so he should be starting again on Thursday. Marina Salas got the bus ticket back to Indy today.
On the minor league front: Chris Duffy can't win. First, his achy breaky shoulder took way longer than expected to heal. Then he was carted off the field at Indy because of dehydration. Now he's in the hospital, being tested for an inner-ear infection. Highmark must be about ready to drop his coverage.
> Gorzo is now on a regular starting schedule at Indy, and he's cleared to go five innings/80-85 pitches in his start on Friday.
> At Altoona, LHP Brian Holliday (1-1), just called up to AA, tossed a seven-inning complete game as the Curve swept a DH tonight. He scattered 9 hits and gave up 1 earned run. RHP Josh Hill started the first game, going 6 innings and giving up a run and 4 hits. Ron Belisario picked up the win with two scoreless innings of relief.
Lotta hitting heroes - CF James Boone went 5-7 (.238), OF Brad Corley (.284) was 4-7 with his 11th HR, SS Luis Cruz (.264) 3-6 and C Miguel Perez (.287) 3-7.
Corley is an interesting prospect. A converted reliever, he has a strong arm, has a good glove, and runs pretty well, filling in at CF when the need arises. His minuses are he doesn't have great power and his plate discipline has been spotty.
In 373 at-bats for the Curve, he's hitting .284 with a team-leading 11 HR's, and has 69 K's and just 17 walks. He's 24, so the clock is ticking against him.
> Lynchburg was outslugged, but not because of DH Kent Sakamota (.259) who had 3 hits and a HR, 3B Jim Negrych (.364) and OF James Barksdale (.314), both of whom had a pair of knocks.
Continuing to struggle, LHP Danny Moskos (7-7, 6.28) allowed 5 earned runs and 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out 3, walked 1 and uncorked 2 wild pitches. He's being converted from the pen to a starter this year, and the Pirates feel like he's hitting the wall with the increased workload now and hope he learns to fight through it.
> 1B Calvin Anderson (.273) stayed hot, going 3-4 in State College's loss last night.
> Bradenton won big, led by Venezuelans 2B Adenson Chourio (.309), who was 4-4, and 1B Carlos Silva (.280), who went 3-4.