The Pirates took a trip in their way-back machine and pulled out a 7-6 victory over the Cards tonight, reminiscent of the excitement of the good ol' pre-trade days.
They fell behind by a four-spot early thanks to some shaky starting pitching, roared back to tie the game, and then hunkered down into a battle of attrition between the bullpens.
The Bucs started out of the gate quickly, scoring twice in the first. They loaded the bases with nobody out, and a pair of sac flies put them up by a 2-1 tally.
But Ian Snell, in what's becoming a disturbing trend, gave up four straight hits with two away to hand St. Louis a 4-2 lead the very next inning. A two run homer in the fourth ended his day. He had no velocity, breaking 91 MPH only once, according to the FSN gun.
Maybe they should be worried about shutting him down instead of Paul Maholm. Maholm has more innings, but we'd wager Snell has thrown as many, if not more, pitches.
Adam Wainwright had an off day on the hill, too, showing uncharacteristic wildness and leaving pitches up in the zone. Pittsburgh took full advantage.
Instead of rolling over, the Pirates answered with four runs of their own, stringing together five consecutive hits in the fifth frame. The inning was keyed by clutch doubles off the bats of Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit, who had 3 RBI for the evening.
Then the battle of the bullpens began. The Cardinal back liners put together six scoreless innings. But the Buc relievers countered with eight shutout frames, and they needed every one.
Finally, with two away in the twelfth, the Bucs hit paydirt. Adam LaRoche drew a walk, and Brandon Moss ripped a 3-2 pitch off of the left center field fence, easily plating LaRoche, who was off and running on the pitch.
Moss was mobbed by the team, led by the quiet LaRoche. Maybe it was a bush league celebration of a meaningless if hard fought win. Then again, maybe it's the beginning of a team finding some chemistry and coming together.
It was the kind of game fans pay their money to see. Both sides made some dazzling defensive plays, and there was enough offense to keep everyone happy. Let's hope there's the same fire during the remaining days of the season.
> Jeff Karstens was yanked from tonight's start because of some dental surgery, and has been pushed back to Tuesday. (Snell pitched with his usual four day's rest today.) Jason Davis will start tomorrow, and Monday's guy will be Ross Ohlendorf. Where this leaves newly-recalled Jimmy Barthmaier is anyone's guess.