Ah, our Buccos. Everyone, even John Kruk, had to poke some fun at Lasting Milledge's trips around the bases, but it' a team-wide phenomena. Pittsburgh started the first with Neil Walker getting doubled off second on a Thrilledge lineout to medium center. Where's Omar Moreno when you need him?
Then the rains came, in the bottom of the second. Pity, because Jeff Karstens had nailed the Brew Crew six up, six down, and threw 15 strikes out of 18 pitches. But we caught the storm a few minutes later here in the cozy confines of Greenfield, and it was coming down hard enough to make Noah cry "Uncle" for a spell.
After fifty minutes, the hostilities began anew. Both starters, Karstens and Chris Capuano, veteran throwers, picked up where they left off, mowing batters down.
The Brew Crew drew first blood on their first hit - a first pitch, leadoff homer by Prince Fielder in the fifth. The Bucs had a pair of doubles off Capuano, but to no avail through four frames.
But with the lead, Capuano committed the mortal sin of walking the leadoff hitter, Pedro. After Dewey struck out, swinging at balls he needed a sand wedge to hit, and Church popped out, the Brewers opted to go after Ronny Cedeno.
Big mistake. He tripled (actually, he took third on the throw and got some love from the scorer) to left to tie the game. Karstens almost brought him home, roping one straight to Casey McGehee's mitt, but the game was back on even keel.
In the sixth, Karstens had a hill too many to climb. Pinch hitter Carlos Gomez bunted for a base hit; Neil Walker, playing him towards the middle, was a step slow getting to the bag. Then, working on the runner, Karstens fell behind Ricky Weeks 3-1 and gave him a heater. Like Fielder, he buried it in the seats.
In 83 innings, Karstens has given up 18 home runs, far and away the team's high.
The Bucs, at least, got into the Brewer bullpen. Todd Coffey replaced Capuano in the sixth. He lasted three batters; with Walker on second and two away, Kenny Macha called for his LOOGY, Zach Braddock, to face Jones, who rolled out weakly to second.
Karstens called it a day, too. He went six, giving up three runs on three hits and six K's. Javier Lopez replaced him on the hill. He got two outs in the seventh, then a walk got him the hook for Brendan Donnelly, who closed the frame out.
The Bucs made some two-out noise in the seventh when Church walked and Cedeno singled - is he afire? - but Delwyn Young bounced out.
They tried again in the ninth, when Jones led off with a single and Pedro walked. But Dewey K'd, Church K'd (and never took a swing), and Cedeno bounced out to second. The Ryans went 0-7 with 4 K's and a DP, and left seven runners aboard. The Pirates had only six hits, but still managed to go 0-for-8 with RISP.
The Brewers had three hits all night, but the two that went yard were the difference. And when one team has 118 homers on the season and the other just 60, in a pitching battle, guess who's gonna win?
Brad Lincoln and Dave Bush mix it up tomorrow night.
-- Andrew McCutchen is out with his "mildly" sprained shoulder. He's likely to miss at least a couple of days more; a bit of web sleuthing found that the AC injury usually costs a guy a week to ten days. Without McCutch in the lineup, JR slid Jose Tabata to leadoff and Lastings Milledge to the three spot; seems like the logical moves.