Tim Lincecum and Paul Maholm showed how it's done in front of 26,709 fans at PNC. Lincecum went seven innings, giving up a run on five hits and a walk with ten Ks; Maholm answered by going eight frames, yielding an unearned run on four hits while whiffing seven.
Neither was around for the decision. The bullpens carried on, and picked up right where the starters left off. Eleven relievers combined to throw six scoreless innings before Bob Howry finally cracked in the fourteenth frame.
The Bucs drew first blood on a Garrett Jones dinger with two away in the opening inning.
The Giant run that tied it in the seventh was enough to make a grown fan cry. After the first two runners reached, Maholm worked it to a first-and-third, two out situation. A ball ricocheted off Ryan Doumit, and Pablo Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda, broke for second.
Doumit fired a low strike to second, easily beating him, but Freddy Sanchez had it clank off his mitt, allowing Sandoval to get in safely and the run to score. It cost Maholm the win, but fortunately, not the Pirates.
The Bucs tried to respond in their half of the frame, but Brandon Moss was gunned down easily at home on Jack Splat's two-out single to right as Tony Beasley waved his arms and rolled the dice on an off-line throw. It was a one-hop strike.
Adam LaRoche, in a batting slump of Cecil B. DeMille epic proportions, had the game saving play in the thirteenth, when he made a diving stop of a Sanchez relay that was headed into right field with a runner at second.
Then along came Jones in the fourteenth, launching his 7th homer in twelve games to give the Bucs the 2-1 victory. Start the game with a long ball, and finish it with the walk-off blast that bounds merrily into the Allegheny. Not a bad day at the shop.
Evan Meek was the recipient of Jones' splash-down, earning his first MLB victory. it'll be a night that both remember.
-- One thing to note about Jones; while he's extended his hitting streak to nine games with his sixth and seventh homers tonight, they've all been solo shots. In a small sample, he's not exactly money in the bank in clutch situations - he's 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. In fact, with a runner on anywhere, he's 1-for-16.
Too early to tell how he'll be as middle-of-the-order RBI guy, but that's not a great stat for someone swinging a hot bat. Not that there's anything wrong with a quick jolt...
-- Indy C Erik Kratz earned the International League Top Star Award for his 2-for-2 performance in Wednesday night's IL/PCL All-Star Game. Kratz had a double and a two-run homer, scored twice and walked once in the IL's 6-5 win. Andrew McCutchen won the honor in last summer's Triple-A All-Star Game.
Kratz entered the break ranked first among IL catchers in hits (54) and runs (29), second in home runs (5) and RBI (23) and third in average (.269).
The slugging backstop also ranks in the top five in the IL in caught stealing efficiency, having thrown out 33% percent of runners trying to steal against him, while his own six steals leads all IL catchers and all catchers in the Pirates' organization.
-- Other noteworthy AAA performances: Ian Snell (2-1) was lights out again for the Tribe as he allowed just one unearned run on two hits in 6-1/3 innings with 5 BBs and 7 Ks to lower his ERA to 0.34 Thursday night.
Gorzo (4-3, 2.66 ERA) went this evening and got the win. He pitched six innings, giving up a run on four hits with 6 Ks and 3 walks.
Steve Pearce is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with five runs, six doubles, a home run and nine RBI in his last six contests since being sent back down by the Bucs.
-- In the Double-A All-Star Game, Altoona's 1B/OF Jason Delaney went 1-for-3 with a walk at DH and drove in the go-ahead run in the South's 5-3 win over the North. SS Brian Friday went 1-for-4. LHP Daniel Moskos pitched one inning and allowed one earned run on one hit and three walks.