Hey, the Buc clubhouse was down in the dumps again, singing the blues as a couple more of their compadres moved on. It's a tough time to be a Pirate; they're probably all crouched in a corner trying to avoid Neil Huntington and his handful of plane tickets.
But they played like pros tonight, riding the sharp pitching of Ross Ohlendorf and the clutch hitting and running of Freddy Sanchez to a 3-0 win over their Central division nemesis, the Cubs.
The Big O worked his slider, change, and moving fastball like a magician tonight, going seven innings and giving up just four hits without a walk and whiffing eight as he notched his seventh win.
He had some help in the field. Andrew McCutcheon made a diving grab to steal one hit, and Brandon Moss, the new left fielder, cut off a liner and threw out Geovany Soto at third to end the seventh inning.
John Grabow deserves big props, too. He came on in the eighth and gave up a ground ball single and then watched Jack Wilson throw the next ball away, putting runners at second and third with no outs and facing the tying run. Grabow calmly struck out the next two batters and got the last out on a hopper to Sanchez, allowing Matt Capps to cruise through the ninth for his eighteenth save.
And Steady Freddy, after coming up empty in the clutch last night, banged a pair of two-out RBI knocks and scampered home from second on a wild pitch to single-handedly carry the anemic Bucco attack. He may not be getting much voter love, but Sanchez is playing like he should be the Pirate All-Star in St. Louis.
Virgil Vasquez (1-0, 3.00) will take on Randy Wells (2-3, 2.57) in the rubber match at PNC tomorrow night.
-- With Nyjer Morgan's trade, Sanchez moved up to the two hole for Pittsburgh and Delwyn Young hit third.
-- As clutch as Sanchez was, Robby Diaz was the opposite. He left six runners on, hit into two DPs, and was spared the ignominy of swinging into four twin killings in one game when he bounced into two-out force plays twice.