Ah, a great start for Brad Lincoln and the Bucs. After a quiet top of the first, the Bucs pounced for a pair off of Freddy Garcia, when a bunt single by Neil Walker and a walk to Andrew MCutchen became runs thanks to a Garrett Jones double that barely missed clearing the Clemente Wall.
The celebration was premature, though. Lincoln walked the leadoff hitter, and back-to-back doubles knotted the score in the second. We guess the good news is that he stemmed the bleeding, not allowing another runner to plate.
Lincoln escaped another jam in the third. He got the first two outs easily, but for the second time in three innings, he plunked a guy with a hook with two outs. Mark Kotsay then singled to center, and Walker was lined off as the cutoff man to second
But McCutchen made an ill-advised throw to third, putting Sox on second and third. An Alexei Ramirez liner to short ended the frame without any additional damage.
The Bucs tried a little two-out action themselves, when Jones walked and Dewey singled to put runners on the corners. Ryan Church put a charge into a ball hit into left center, but between Juan Pierre and Alex Rios, the odds aren't great for a ball to drop in - and it didn't.
The Sox added a pair of small ball runs in the fourth. Lincoln walked the leadoff hitter, then Gordon Beckham hit a high hopper than cleared a leaping Andy LaRoche's mitt by inches and was played clumsily in left by Jose Tabata, allowing the run to score. A sac bunt and suicide squeeze brought home the second tally. Two leadoff walks, two runs. Notice a trend developing here?
Pittsburgh tied it in the fifth thanks to the McClutch show. Walker singled, stole second, and came around on a McCutch liner to left. McCutchen then stole second and third, setting up Jones with one out and the infield in.
He tried to lift one, and popped to third. But Ryan Doumit picked him up with a two-out lob into short left to plate McCutchen.
Chicago went back up in the sixth with an infield single, walk, and two-hopper through the shortstop hole. That would be the last frame for Lincoln, who notched six innings, giving up five runs on six hits, three walks, and K'ing a pair on 96 pitches.
He looked better today, even with the results. The majority of hits were of the seeing-eye variety, but he really needs to sharpen his command. He walked three; two scored and the other put an eventual run in scoring position.
The Pirates again tried for some two-out lightning in their half with a pinch double by Aki Iwamura, who seems to be thriving now that his knee isn't being worn down by the daily grind, and a ten-pitch walk to Tabata. A wild pitch moved them to second and third. Walker, facing Sergio Santos, went down swinging through a 96 MPH heater.
McCutchen beat out an infield single to open the seventh, bringing on lefty Matt Thornton. After watching Jones suffer through a bad at-bat, hacking at high heat, and then Doumit being called out on an iffy strike, he stole second.
But Church bounced out to end the inning, the fourth time in seven innings he had that honor. Kinda curious thinking on the part of Mr. Match Up, JR, who didn't call on Lastings Milledge or Delwyn Young to hit against the fireballing lefty, especially as Church is hitting .179 overall and just .160 against southpaws.
Meanwhile, former White Sox pitcher DJ Carrasco held the fort for two innings, striking out a trio and walking one. Then JR made another odd decision, bring in Octavio Dotel in the ninth, even though down a run; maybe he thought OD needed the work.
That was probably so; he walked, of all people, leadoff man Juan Pierre. Pierre didn't have to steal a base; Dotel's pickoff throw somehow twisted Jones into a pretzel even though it was on line, glanced off his glove, and after a few strides, Pierre was at third.
An out later, he scored against a drawn up infield when a spanked grounder got under a diving Cedeno. If you're keeping count; Pierre was the third batter the Pirates walked to open an inning; all three scored.
Not that Chicago actually needed an insurance run, gift-wrapped or not. Their four relievers threw 3-1/3 innings, giving up two hits and striking out six. The Bucs played just well enough to lose again, for the ninth straight time, 6-4. Think of the money the team is saving on those post-game victory firework celebrations!
Zach Duke and John Danks face off in the second game tomorrow night.
-- The beat guys report that Pedro will join the team tomorrow, when Indy has a scheduled off day. What a long, strange journey - don't the suits have a PR bone in their body? We won't mention that now he'll start against a lefty rather than a soft throwing righty. Anyway, let the El Toro lovefest begin; about time.
-- We noticed tonight that Jose Tabata isn't locked into the infamous North Side Notch positioning. Might be that with his speed, Gary Varsho plays him more traditionally, as he did with Nyjer Morgan.
-- Omar Vizquel wore #13 for a couple of decades, and Ronny Cedeno sports the same number in his honor. They're the latest in a long line of Venezuelan shortstops, dating back to Chico Carrasquel and Louis Aparicio; Vizquel now wears Aparicio's #11, taken out of team retirement with Aparicio's blessing.