Nothing like throwing the ball around to get a game going. In a scoreless third, Ross Ohlendorf walked the nine hitter (yah, Pittsburgh has a lot of respect for the bottom of the order.) Ohlie caught him leaning, and made a quick toss to first; a toss on the base had him.
But it was a little offline, toward right field, and got away from Garrett Jones. With the big foul area, Cliff pennington was flying to third. Jones' throw - and he does have an outfielder's arm - was just a tad late, bounced off the runner, and that quick, it was 1-0 A's.
In the fifth, Pittsburgh tried to hand the game over to Oakland. The first batter walked, McCutch had a ball clang off his glove after a long run, and Ohlie didn't cover first on a grounder to first, and made things worse by walking in a run.
The bases were still juiced with no one out, but a pop-up, soft liner off the bat handle, and another soft liner into center ended the frame without any additional mayhem.
After six, Ohlie had given up two hits, but walked four. Two were leadoff walks that scored; the other was with the bases loaded. Still, a clean game in the field would have the teams in a scoreless deadlock instead of a 2-0 A's lead.
He left then with two unearned runs scored against him and three K's. He looked better, but his command still isn't there, as his 105 pitches showed.
The Pirates also drew four free passes in six innings off of Gio Gonzalez; two were stranded at first and two were erased on DP's. Different strokes...
But hey, hope springs eternal. Lastings Milledge finally threw the monkey off his back when he led off the frame with his first homer over the 362' mark in left center, putting the fork in Gonzalez. Andy LaRoche singled into right, advanced to third on a pair of ground outs, and came in on Jose Tabata's double to tie it up 2-2.
But hey, this is the Pirates we're talking about. With two outs in the eighth, Kurt Suzuki hit a foul pop between Jones and Jason Jaramillo; it was in no man's land and though it appeared that Jones waved for it, JJ stuck his mitt under the ball - and it popped out. Two pitches later, Suzuki pulled an Evan Meek heater down the line for his tenth homer and the A's regained the lead.
Pittsburgh didn't quit. Delwyn Young started off with a single, but the star-crossed Jaramillo bounced into a DP; talk about a bad coupla minutes. Pedro came up to pinch hit, and drew a four pitch walk. Tabata then banged a ball that was headed into right field, but it clipped Alvarez's back heel as he headed to second; end of game.
Oakland had three hits, and won 3-2. The Pirates gave up three unearned runs on four errors and four more walks, hit into three double plays, and were 1-for-9 with RISP. And the streak goes on.
The guys are playing with the weight of the world on their shoulders, and it shows. Every mistake comes back to haunt them, and they're making plenty of them. The team doesn't need any more meetings; it needs to relax.
When they land in Pittsburgh Wednesday, the team bus should head straight to Atria's instead of PNC. A band and a couple of cold ones would probably do the squad more good than extra BP or grounders at this stage of the season.
Paul Maholm takes on Randy Wells at Wrigley tomorrow evening.
-- Pedro got the day off against the lefty Gonzalez, a good move by JR to let the kid take a deep breath. Andy LaRoche got the start at third. He also used Ryan Doumit as the DH, so it does seem the first base nonsense is done.
-- Luke Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that "D.J. Carrasco could be traded before the deadline. Carrasco's numbers this season haven't been overly impressive (4.12 ERA, 1.76 K/BB)...but the right-hander should draw some interest."
Helping fuel the speculation is the league-wide perception that the bullpen market is quite thin this summer; DJ won't be the only reliever that the Bucs dangle; Javier Lopez has to be high on the list, too. We'd venture that everyone not named Evan Meek or Joel Hanrahan is fair game.