Two outs and two strikes, nobody aboard, and the Cards scored four runs. That was the story of the third inning and the game.
Zach Duke couldn't get that third out, Kyle Lohse bore down the couple of times Pittsburgh threatened early in the game, and the result was a 6-0 Redbird victory.
The Pirates big chance came in the fourth, when three straight singles juiced the bases with one out. But Duke, batting eighth, struck out and Jack Splat popped up. Pirates pitchers have stranded six runners in two nights while hitting eighth
"If you let down one pitch, it's a totally different ballgame," Lohse said. "I couldn't allow myself to do that." He didn't, and ran his record to 11-2.
Meanwhile, Duke's allowed 30 hits and 14 earned runs in 18 1/3 innings in his past 4 starts. Paul Maholm must be feeling awfully lonely, carrying the staff on his shoulders.
It's a good thing Zambelli was on hand to provide some fireworks for another turnstile-busting crowd of 37,113, because the Pirates sure didn't.
The Bucco beat goes on. LHP Phil Dumatrait is back on the 15-day disabled list with "a pinch" in his shoulder and RHP Yoslan Herrera was called up from Altoona to start tomorrow's game in his stead.
Herrera, 27, defected from Cuba three years ago. He's 5-8 with a 3.11 ERA in 17 starts for Altoona. He also won a spot start for Indy, allowing 2 runs in 7 innings. Herrera has shown good control, and added a change-up to his pitching repertoire.
Dumatrait might make a rehab start Sunday for Indy. He can come off the DL July 23.
The Pirates also sent RHP Luis Munoz back to Class AA Altoona. Munoz, who spent two games in the Pirates bullpen, will start for the Curve tonight. They recalled RHP Frankie Osoria from his rehab assignment at AAA Indy.
Hey, nothin' really up today until game time. So we thought we'd take a quick peek at what happened on July 11 in Bucco history (not much, as it turned out):
> The Pirates hosted their first All-Star game at Forbes Field on July 11, 1944. Pittsburgh hurler Rip Sewell pitched three scoreless innings to preserve a 7-1 victory for the NL, its first win since 1940.
Sewell employed his famous ‘ephus,’ or blooper, pitch during the game and would say of it later, "An ephus ain't nothing. And that's what that pitch is... nothing."
Pittsburgh didn't really embrace the affair, and a crowd of 25,000 was one of the lowest ever to show up for the game.
> The Pirates agreed to terms with LHP Paul Maholm on 7-11-2003, their first-round pick of the June draft. Thank God for small favors!
He came out of Mississippi State, and was the eighth overall pick. The 26-year old was born in Greenwood, Mississippi and was the pride of Germantown HS. He made his major league debut as a starter on August 30, 2005 and whupped the Brew Crew.
> In 2006, the Midsummer Classic returned to Pittsburgh for the fifth time in its 77-year years. And da 'Burg was into this one.
Paying tribute to the 1979 World Series champs during the pregame festivities, Pirate fans were part of a Family reunion. As the 77 year-old Chuck Tanner strolled to the mound, he was mobbed by Kent Tekulve, Bill Madlock, Manny Sanguillen, Dave Parker and Phil Garner.
To the disco beat of "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge, the six men mugged for pictures and the old Bucs, all former All-Stars, autographed the ball Tanner chucked left-handed to the plate as the ceremonial first pitch.
The cherry on top was when Garner, the NL manager, gave his ol' skipper some love and chose him to serve as honorary bench coach.
Fanfest activities, Bobby O's energetic tub-thumping (God, we miss that man! He was everywhere) and non-stop media and PR coverage had the 38,904 ticketholders in a week-long baseball euphoria.
The PNC faithful erupted when homeboys Jay Bay, elected a starter, and Freddy Sanchez, who had received over 850,000 write-in votes and on his way to a batting title, were introduced.
They didn't do anything at the plate, although Sanchez make a great catch at SS. The NL acted just like the home team at PNC - they blew a lead and lost 3-2.
> Just a quick thought on last night. The sell-out crowd was aroar from the seventh inning on. It exploded after Nate McLouth's homer, give an echoing standing O to Paul Maholm, and stood & chanted for every pitch from Damaso Marte.
If Pittsburgh wants a full house of Bucco beserkers every night, we think the fans spoke. Forget about the bobbleheads and fireworks (well, keep the fireworks, hehe, we like them) and put a team on the field that competes like they did last night. That'll sell some tickets and put a few more warm butts in the seats.
Pittsburgh showed last night that the dismal attendance isn't because of the fans. Just the opposite, in fact. Give them something to cheer for, and they will come.
> The GW is still down on the pitcher in the eight hole thingie. True, Jack Splat scored twice batting ninth last night. But we've seen way too many innings killed by the pitcher hitting eighth, either by becoming the key out or getting the seventh guy in the lineup intentionally walked.
We understand that it's just a tactic to get McLouth up with a runner on, but we think there are other ways to do that. And for every run Wilson scores, he loses an RBI chance. Bat the pitcher last, as Abner Doubleday intended. Tony LaRussa, peh.