Ho, baby, they made it exciting, but the Bucs, behind a dominating performance from the up-and-down Paul Maholm, hung on to salvage the third game of the Astro series by a 2-1 score.
The Pirates scored to open the game, when Andrew McCutchen led off with a double and came in on a Garrett Jones knock. There it stood until the eighth, when Ryan Doumit hit a solo shot to make it 2-0. Maholm had scattered six hits up to that time, and was quite efficient, throwing only 95 pitches.
But JR just couldn't bear to let him take the hill in the ninth to try for the complete game shutout; it's apparently against the Bucco bylaws. So in trotted Matt Capps, and the hardball theatrics began.
He threw two heaters to Lance Berkman; both were balls. Hey, can't walk the leadoff hitter, can we? So it was another fastball, this one over the plate. And the Big Puma banged it over the yellow line in center field to cut the lead to a run.
The next guy singled, and visions of impending Armageddon flashed across Pirate psyches. But a pop up and 1-6-3 DP ended the drama, along with the Pirates unsightly thirteen game road skid.
And a drama it was. Capps had a few choice words for Miguel Tejada after he popped out; Cappers thought a coach was stealing signs and giving them to Tejada. That's the first time we've seen that kind of exchange after a soft out. The streak must be wearing on the boys.
Now it's off to Dodger Stadium. The probable pitching matchups are here, provided by MLB.com.
-- Lastings Milledge threw out a guy trying to stretch a single into a double in the third inning, giving the Pirates a MLB-leading 39 outfield assists for the season. That's the most since the team had 40 in 1991.
The Bucs also turned three DPs in the final three innings today. Not only did that help ice the game, but it gave them 151 twin-killings so far during the season, the NL's best, two ahead of the Cards.
-- Part of Ryan Doumit's second half woes may have to do with his wrist injury, which traditionally take a full season to mend. He told Richard Dean of MLB.com that "It's not where it needs to be, but a lot of rest in the offseason will be what the doctor ordered."
-- Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette prepared a list of seventeen reasons why the Pirates will succeed, followed by seventeen more reasons why they'll flop.
-- Robert Dvorchak of the Post Gazette covers the career of baseball's first great closer, Elroy Face, Danny Murtaugh's Baron of the Bullpen.
-- Joe Rutter of the Tribune Review dug deep to find five good moves the Pirates made during the past couple of dismal decades.