The Zachster started off hot; he got Dexter Fowler on a little fly to right and Todd Helton swung through a knee-high heater. Then he had to go and hang a curve to Carlos Gonzalez, who bombed it into the batter's eye shrubbery in dead center.
McCutch tried to jump start the Bucs by lining a single into left, but to no avail. He got to second on a Tabata bunt - we think he was trying for a base hit, but he could have given Andrew a couple of pitches to take a shot at a steal - and Neil Walker lined out softly, followed by Garrett Jones flying to right.
The third was an ugly inning. Cliff Barmes singled off Pedro's glove; El Toro has no range to the left. The pitcher, Jason Hammels, struck out trying to bunt. No matter - Duke balked the runner to second. He scored when Fowler hit a 3-1 fastball off the Clemente Wall for two sacks.
Fowler plated on a Helton liner over Walker's head; it was a 3-2 fastball. He got to third when Duke had him picked off breaking on the pitch, but Jone's throw to second was on the wrong side of the bag and rolled into the outfield. The inning came a merciful finish when Ronny Cedeno climbed the ladder to grab a Troy Tulowitzki rope.
The Pirates put runners on first and second without a hit in their half when Cedeno walked and McCutch reached on a bad throw. But Tabata looked the gift horse in the mouth and banged into a 6-4-3 DP.
In the fourth, Duke gave up three hits (two were so soft they wouldn't have dented an egg), including singles to the 7-8 hitters, but a DP and strikeout of Hammels kept the Rox off the board.
Colorado picked up two more hits in the fifth - neither left the infield - but Duke got a come-backer to end that frame. Through five, he had given up nine hits and thrown 87 pitches. Some were soft, but except for the one that evaded Pedro's pocket, they were all clean.
For the Pirates, the lead off single in the first was their only knock after five frames.
Duke was done after six, but he kept the game manageable, and the Bucs got him off the hook in the sixth. With one away, Tabata singled and Walker, behind him, took a curve off the foot to put two aboard. Jones struck out in a very undisciplined at-bat.
But Pedro showed some patience, and it paid off. Hammels gave him an off speed pitch on a 2-0 count, it hung and Alvarez lined it into the seats over the Clemente Wall to even the game 3-3. Chan Ho park came on to make his first Pirate appearance in a new ball game.
Park retired the first two batter handily, but miscommunication between a battery that never worked together, even in the bullpen, cost the Pirates dearly. Gonzalez lined a two-out single up the middle, and went to second on a wild pitch that was catchable, but a ball that crossed up Chris Snyder. Tulo lined a 2-0 slider into left, and the speedy Gonzalez scored without a throw. Back to work.
Snyder greeted reliever Matt Belisle with a single, but the Rox caught a break when Chris Ianetta, the catcher, had a ball get through him but ricochet off the plate umpire back into the field, keeping Snyder at first. Cedeno bunted him over, but Delwyn Young and McCutch both popped out to the short outfield.
Evan Meek kept the clamps on in the eighth. The Bucs, well, they bumbled. Tabata started off with an infield single. Ianetta had a short passed ball get behind him a few feet, and Tabata took off for second, froze when Ianetta finally found the ball, and was thrown out trying to dive back to first.
If he went on first instinct, he would have made second, but the indecision cost him. Walker struck out behind him, fighting off 96 MPH heat and then swinging through a 75 MPH hook. Joe Beimel came on to face the lefty Jones and got him on a weak grounder to first.
Joel Hanrahan didn't keep it close. Fowler tripled off the top of the center field fence - it was originally ruled a homer - and a walk and two singles later, it was 6-3. He struck out Seth Smith for the second out, but JR brought in Daniel McCutchen to close the inning.
In 2/3 of an inning, in all deep counts, Hanrahan had thrown 31 pitches; JR probably wanted to keep him in play for tomorrow's game.
And while it's easy to blame the pitching for this one, the Pirates shot themselves in the foot by not getting a glove on a bouncer, allowing a slider to go uncaught, and not taking advantage of lead off runners in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Rox are a more veteran team; they were much more disciplined at the plate, especially with runners aboard. It's a trait the Pirates have yet to learn; they still often throw away at-bats in clutch situations, and that leads to thrown-away games.
Ross Ohlendorf and Jorge De La Rosa will pitch tomorrow night's Skyblast game.
-- According to Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review..."the St. Louis Cardinals are eyeing Andy LaRoche as a possible trade target, assuming he could clear waivers. The Cardinals found out Tuesday that third baseman David Freese is out for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury."
-- LHP Justin Thomas was returned to Indy today to make room for Chan Ho Park. The Bucs are back to one lefty in the pen, Wil Ledezema.
-- Dewey will have to wait until Saturday before rejoining the club. Doumit was scheduled to make his third rehab appearance on Thursday, but Indy's game was rained out. A doubleheader has been scheduled for today, with Dewey scheduled to play in both games, one as a catcher.