Monday, August 2, 2010

Punchless Pirates Fall Again

Ohlie started off well; he had Brandon Phillips 0-2. But eight pitches later, he walked runners to first and second. He had Miguel Cairo 0-2 too, but his curve caught too much plates and was lined softly into left.

Phillips scored, but Tabata made the smart play and got the ball to third. It paid off. Ohlie K'ed Scott Rolen, and then Jonny Gomes hit a one hopper off Ohlendorf's knee. This time the ball ricocheted toward first, and Garrett Jones mde a nice play to get the runner. The other guys moved up, but JT's play kept them from a run after Ohlie came back to whiff Jay Bruce.

The Bucs centered a couple of balls in the first, to no avail. Andrew McCutchen flew out to the track, and Neil Walker lined a single.

More trouble in the second, when Chris Heisey doubled into left. A fly to center got him to third, but Ohlie got an infield-in bouncer from the pitcher for the second out. Then he walked Brandon Phillips and Orlando Cabrera again to load them. Fortunately, Cairo swung at the first pitch and hit an inning-ending hopper to Andy LaRoche.

It stayed 1-0, but Ohlie was already working on 56 pitches. The Bucs didn't help by going down quietly in the second.

Not so the Reds. With one away, Gomes doubled high off the Clemente Wall and Bruce dropped a parachute into right center to put runners on the corners. Heisey got nicked on the back elbow to load the sacks, and catcher Ryan Hanigan hit a broken bat bouncer to first to score the second Cincy run. Travis Wood, the pitcher, K'ed, but now had a 2-0 lead to work with. And Ohlie's pitch count was at 84.

The Pirates again went down without a peep, and the Reds kept chipping away. A leadoff knock by Phillips, a stolen base, a fairly deep fly to center that moved him to third, and a sac liner into right that Milledge had to run down made it 3-0.

The Pirates kept going, too; after four innings, they had one hit and were working on a string of ten straight batters retired. They got a couple of guys on in the fifth. Thrilledge singled, and Cedeno earned a two-out walk.

JR opted to send up Jeff Clement, a lefty, to to bat against Wood, another lefty. He rolled the ball to second, where it was bobbled by Phillips, but was rung up on a bang-bang call by ump Dana DeMuth.

Wil Ledezema came on in the sixth and worked a 1-2-3 game. McCutchen and Walker both squared up on pitches, but they both hit at 'em balls, and the Bucs went down in order. Ledezema returned to pitch a clean seventh; Wood easily sat down the Bucs in their half.

The little league play continued in the eighth, when Joel Hanrahan came on. He struck out the first two Reds. Heisey lined a hit over short, and McCutch slid to try to cut off the gap. He missed, the ball rolled to the Notch, and a weak relay by Cedeno allowed the inside-the-park home run.

The only good news was that Wood got the hook after seven, working on a two-hit shutout. The bad news is that the results probably had more to do with Pittsburgh than the pitching; Russ Springer came on and quieted the Bucs, giving up only a ground ball single to Delwyn Young.

Justin Thomas got the ball in the ninth, and with the help of a 5-4-3 DP, pitched cleanly. Arthur Rhodes set the Bucs down and the Reds stayed in the hunt with a 4-0 win.

Two runs in four games. Three hits tonight; maybe a half-dozen well struck outs. Guess the learning curve is catching up.

Paul Maholm will take on Mike Leake tomorrow night.

-- Today's moves: Chris Snyder started at catcher and batted fifth, Pedro had the night off against a lefty (the forgotten man, Andy LaRoche, was back on the hot corner), and JJ was sent back to Indy. Daniel McCutchen was banished to the pen, and James McDonald is scheduled to start Thursday against Colorado in his stead.

And that last pair of moves should be interesting. Some felt McDonald was miscast in the Dodger bullpen, and others thought that McCutchen was better suited as a short man. So we'll see how the swap shakes out.

-- Steve Pearce is scheduled to have surgery on his left knee Wednesday by Dr. Patrick DeMeo at AGH. Talk about tough luck; Pearce looked like he had worked his way into a platoon role at first when a sprained ankle put him on the DL, and then a plasma injection failed to relieve his chronic knee pain.

-- Who'd a' thunk that Ross Ohlendorf (4.35) and Jeff Karstens (4.42) would have the two best ERA's among Bucco starters going into tonight's game? That and $2 will get you a small latte; their combined record is 3-14.

Maybe the fact that Karstens is getting 3.37 runs per game in support and Ohlie just 3.04 has something to do with those records. Overall, the Bucs average just 3.49 runs per game.

-- Jose Ascanio started a rehab assignment with the GCL Bucs; maybe we'll see him in September.

-- The Pirates have traded Altoona OF Brandon Jones to Tigers for a PTBNL. He's been assigned to Detroit's AA Erie club.

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