Why do Bucco pitchers insist on walking the first batter? Zach Duke did it to Ricky Weeks to start the game, and Cory Hart doubled him to third. Duke got a pop up and a shallow fly to right. Weeks tagged on the fly, and was out by two steps if Dewey would have caught the on-line one hopper to home by Delwyn Young.
The ball stayed down a little, and went right through Ryan Doumit; 1-0 Brew Crew. And Young got the error! Doumit needs to do something with his glove; it seems like he costs us a run every game thanks to some misplay.
But it must be contagious. Randy Wolf walked Jose Tabata on a grind 'em out, 11 pitch at-bat. He scampered to second on a wild pitch, and came home on a single up the middle by Young. DY plated when the red-hot Neil Walker doubled into right center, perhaps helped a bit by the sun as Carlos Gomez actually overran the ball.
Wolf settled down after that, but it was 2-1 after the first.
The lead lasted for two batters, when eight hitter George Kottaras hit his eighth homer. Four have been against the Pirates. The Greek National player came into the game hitting .203 against the league, but .381 against the Bucs. Can't complain about the scouting either, at least in this case. Duke gave him a heater between the belt and letters right down the middle.
Tonight was apparently Pittsburgh's turn to be generous. With two away and Ryan Braun on first, Pedro backhanded a ball and threw a one-hopper to first. Garrett Jones, like Dewey before him, couldn't come up with the ball, and there were runners on the corners.
Carlos Gomez, a bunt candidate, hit a Baltimore chop over Alvarez's glove; he was even with base to guard against one being laid down. 3-2 Brew Crew, and two of the three were gifts.
The Pirates made a change in the fourth; Eric Kratz took over behind the dish; Doumit was suffering from light-headedness caused probably by the collision he was in after missing the ball in the first frame. Duke got the Brewers 1-2-3, and the Pirates went to work.
Jones singled to lead off the fourth, and then Pedro pounded one through the right side hole to put runners at first and third. Milledge doubled in one run, and a safety squeeze by Ronny Cedeno brought home another. Duke tried the same thing, and popped out, almost doubling Milledge off at third.
But he didn't, and Jose Tabata singled him in. Then Young pulled a belt-high, middle of the dish hook over the short fence in left, and before Randy Wolf could cry wolf, it was 8-3.
How many times have you heard that you have to out slug the Brewers to beat them? Well, the Bucs have taken it to heart. In the fifth, Jones missed wrapping one around the foul pole by inches, and ended up drawing a walk. Pedro took all the drama away when he dropped one just over the wall to straight center; it was 10-3 Pittsburgh at the end of five.
And how was the Zachster handling the lead? Just fine, thank you. He retired seven in a row, walked a batter, then got a DP and a K after that. Paying attention, Brad?
Wolf was taking one for the team, with Milwaukee's bullpen being way over exposed recently. But there's only so much Kenny Macha could do - Duke, Tabata, and Young singled for a run (DY's fifth of the game, a career high), and even a DP ball smacked by Walker scored another. Jones singled, and Wolf's run was done after 5-1/3 innings, with twelve runs given up on thirteen hits and 108 pitches.
Duke, in his second start since his rehab assignment, got the hook in the sixth when the first two hitters - Kottaras and AA call up Lorenzo Cain - singled off him, bringing his pitch count to 102; Brendan Donnelly relieved and closed the inning against the top of Milwaukee's order.
Duke went six, giving up two earned runs on six hits, with three Ks, two walks, and a plunked batter.
The Pirates added another pair off David Riske in the seventh on RBI knocks by Andy LaRoche and Walker scoring Milledge and Cedeno.
The Bucs added another in the eighth when Pedro crushed one high off the right field screen off Kameron Loe; it may have been a river shot if it had slid a bit further inside the pole.
It also provided the perfect spot to get Sean Gallagher some work, and he did a yeoman's job. Gallagher went two innings with a hit and a K, while throwing 21 pitches, 14 for strikes.
The Baby Bombers blasted their way to another win. It's amazing how a few runs help minimize the little mistakes they still make, the same mistakes that were coffin nails in the first three months of the season.
Ross Ohlendorf and Yovani Gallardo will start tomorrow night.
-- The five RBI by Alvarez last night and five tonight by Delwyn Young is the first time since 1973 that Pirates teammates had at least 5 RBI in back-to-back games. The last duo to perform that feat were Al "Scoops" Oliver and Rennie Stennett, who had six apiece.
-- Just a little anecdote told by the FSN announcers about the Pirate locker room, which has kept its head even when the season was spinning away: when Eric Kratz came to the club, one of the first to greet him was Brendan Donnelly, who told him that he too was a 30 year-old rookie when he was first called up, and he's still in the show nine years later.
Chemistry doesn't mean everything, but it helped hold the club together when things were dark, and it's old vets like BD who deserve some credit for keeping a young club's fragile psyche intact to fight another day.
-- The Pirates signed eight more Latino players. Jen Langosch on her By Gosh blog has a brief Rene Gayo blurb about each of them.