Hey, we expected a tasty game tonight with Josh Johnson going against the effective but snake-bitten Ross Ohlendorf, and it sure started off that way.
In the second, Dan Uggla homered to left; in the Buc half, Dewey hit a blast to right for the early scoring.
Actually, the Pirates were after Johnson all night. Jose Tabata doubled in the first, Delwyn Young followed Doumit's long fly with a single, and in the third, Tabata singled again. They were all wasted opportunities; Young was erased on a 4-6-3 DP and Tabata was caught stealing.
In the fourth, Garrett Jones started the frame by getting to second when RF Mike Stanton muffed his fly, but again, the Bucs were stymied. The chances were piling up, but the clutch hits weren't.
In the fifth, the Fish strung together a pair of lead off hits to retake the lead. Cody Ross lined a ball into the right center gap, and it looked as if McCutch was going to run it down, but he came up empty when he flat out whiffed on the catch. Ross came in on Chad Tracy's single.
McCutch did come up big when he made a diving grab of Ronny Paulino's soft liner into center. A bunt and strikeout closed the door. Thrilledge led off with a single in the Bucco half, but made it no further than second. The Pirates had stranded two guys at second and one at third so far.
The Marlins squared up on a couple of balls in the sixth, but both were driven to straightaway center, and McCutch was waiting when they came back to earth. JT led off with a base knock - he was 3-for-3 at this point - and Jones followed with a one-hopper over the second base bag.
Unfortunately, it turned into the easiest 6-3 DP Hanley Ramirez will ever turn, as he broke to cover second when Tabata took off on the pitch. So instead of a runner at second, or perhaps first and third if it would have sneaked through (Ramirez was shading Jones toward the middle) it was just another inning killer.
Ohlie got Florida 1-2-3 in the seventh; he was cruising with a three-hitter and a pitch count of 86. Johnson responded with his first clean inning of the evening.
The Fish added a huge insurance run in the eighth. Ronny Paulino lined a double over Pedro, maybe six inches over his mitt. The Pirates put on the wheel play, but Johnson perfectly killed a bunt halfway between the mound and home to move the catcher to third.
He came in on a foul fly down the right field line. Lastings Milledge made the grab after a long run, but it took him three or four steps to slow down and turn. His off line throw allowed Paulino to drag his paw across the plate past a diving Dewey.
For Ohlendorf, it was another good outing. Eight innings with three runs yielded on four hits, two walks, and five K's. If he had some better fielding support, it could easily be 1-1 instead of 3-1.
McCutch got a run back in the Pirate half when he belted a two-out blast, his eleventh, into the batter's eye greenway 400' away in dead center.
Evan Meek kept it in hand, with just a touch of drama. He walked Uggla to start the inning, and Uggla stole second. But two swinging K's with a nice running catch by Milledge sandwiched in between maintained the status quo.
Leo Nunez, once a Pirate farmhand, came on to close. He walked Jones on four pitches, then struck out Pedro (his 3rd K) and Dewey swinging, never showing either a fastball, and got DY on a grounder to second.
Josh Johnson pitched well; he was still pumping them out a 96 in the eighth inning. But he sure didn't need the help the Pirates gave him.
You have to feel for Ohlie. If McCutch keeps a fly in his glove; if Milledge makes an on-line throw...but those are the things losing teams don't do. The Pirates don't execute well, and in close games, that makes all the difference. If you can't score and can't make plays when you need to, most nights are going to be long.
Paul Maholm will close out the Florida series tomorrow night against Sean West.
-- The Pittsburgh Kid got the night off; Delwyn Young got the call at second. A curious call; where is JR's head? Most managers try to match their best bats against your best pitchers. Chris Snyder took a seat, too, as Dewey caught.
-- Ronny Cedeno was penciled into the lineup again today, and erased again after some soreness during BP.
-- Today would mark Roberto Clemente's 76th birthday. Wish you were still around to blow out the candles, Arriba.
-- After tonight, the Pirates have scored 4 runs or more just 44 times (37%), with a 28-16 slate. They've scored three or less 76 times, with a 12-64 record. Pittsburgh isn't just last in the NL in runs scored; they're 50 runs behind Houston, which is the next worse team in the senior circuit.
-- RHP Chris Jakubauskas has been removed from the 40-man roster after being reinstated from DL, and assigned to Indy. It could be to open a spot if Pedro Ciriaco is needed, or it could be some pre-September housekeeping.
-- The Pirates introduced second round pick RHP Stetson Allie at PNC earlier in the afternoon; Jameson Taillon will get his day in the sun tomorrow. The order's backward, but we're sure it was a heck of a lot easier for Allie to drive in from Cleveland than to finalize arrangements for Taillon to jet in from Texas.