Geez, already. After getting a bounce out, Brian Burres got wunderkind Jason Heyward to hit a foul over third; Ronny Cedeno dropped it. Four pitches, and the first Bucco error. But BB picked up his teammate and K'ed the rook; no damage by the Braves in the opening frame.
The Brave's self-inflicted some damage on themselves with a walk and an error in the Pirate first. McCutch drew a leadoff base on balls on five pitches from Tommy Hanson, stole second, and went to third when the wide throw ticked off a mitt and died in short center. The Braves played the infield back, Jose Tabata hit a routine grounder to short, and it was 1-0.
Atlanta set up shop quickly in the second, with back-to-back singles and a plunked batter to start the frame. Burres wriggled out of it nicely, though, giving up just a run on a sac fly.
The Bucs hit the ball on the nose in the second, but to no avail. Pedro flied out a step short of the left center 383' mark, Dewey lined a single into right, DY lined out to center, and Cedeno flew out deep to straightaway center. A lot of smoke, but not much fire.
The Braves put Heyward aboard with one out, when his looper into left fell in front of JT, who had a late break and not much energy coming in on the ball; we're wondering if he has some leg tightness. But that was it for Atlanta in the third.
The Pirates went down in order. But interestingly, McCutch tried to bunt his way on. About time; it certainly appears he's going to stay at leadoff, and if he can make third basemen play him in, holes will open, adding to his arsenal.
BB pitched a clean fourth, aided by Cedeno's outstanding grab of a quail blooped into center by Alex Gonzalez. Pittsburgh made some two-out noise when El Toro doubled into left center and Dewey walked, but DY popped a soft fly to left to end the inning. Both sides went down in order in the fifth.
Burres was almost too sharp for his own good in the sixth. With two outs, he sawed off Derrek Lee and Matt Diaz, but both dropped little jam shot singles into the outfield. JR strode to the mound, with Chan Ho Park loose in the pen, but after a brief chat allowed BB one more batter - and he got him.
The Pirates rewarded him in a hurry. JT reached out and rolled a curve up the middle; The Pittsburgh Kid then launched his tenth homer into center, landing in the batter's eye. Now it was Burres' game to win. He went six innings, giving up a run on five hits with 3 K's and squarely put himself in line to take Jeff Karsten's spot in the rotation.
Chris Resop, who the Pirates claimed from Atlanta, came on. With one out, Nate McLouth rolled a single into right; with two outs, he stole second. Resop lost it briefly, walking the bases full and bringing up the dangerous Martin Prada. He was jammed, and hit a check swing roller toward third while falling backward. Pedro came in and beat him him by a step at first on a very nice effort and stronger throw.
The Bucs went down 1-2-3 against Kyle Farnsworth, and Evan Meek took the hill. He walked Lee to open the frame, and an out later Alex Gonzalez rolled a check swing grounder 50' for an infield single. Pinch hitter Brian McCann hit a DP ball to second, but Walker lost it while trying to make the turn to second, and settled for the out at first.
Second and third for Nate. But the old Bucco didn't come back to haunt his former club; he bounced out to Jones. No wonder Bobby Cox is retiring.
Peter Moylan took over in the eighth, and got Pittsburgh on three grounders. Joel Hanrahan was on in the ninth, looking for his fourth save. And Hanny got it, giving up only a two-out, two-strike single to Heywood.
Nice to be the spoiler for a day. The Buc offense did just enough, and they made some plays in the field. Even though they were outhit 8-4, most of the Brave knocks were of seeing-eye variety, and the bullpen stood tall when it had to, stranding six runners over the last three innings.
The pitchers, especially Burres, worked the ball inside today, causing a number of broken bats, check swing rollers, and soft pops. It would be nice to see that become a habit.
James McDonald will face off against Tim Hudson tomorrow night.
-- Neil Walker now has a thirteen game hitting streak. Not too shabby for a guy called up to be a bench player.
-- Delwyn Young got the ride on JR's right field carousal today. Dewey is catching and John Bowker is sitting with righty Tommy Hanson on the hill.
-- Evan Meek says he's ready to go; JR said tomorrow is more likely. Guess Meek knew best.
-- Nate the Great is back for Atlanta; McLouth made his first major league start since July 24th on Sunday. He was demoted to AAA Gwinnett on July 27th and returned to the Braves on August 31st, so he's auditioning for a spot on the playoff roster. McLouth is starting in center today and batting eighth; he's hitting .168.
-- GM Neal Huntington said that the organization will wait until after the minor league season to decide which three pitchers the organization will send to the Arizona Fall League. We're guessing that they're going to total up the innings worked, and will weigh how deep Bradenton and Altoona go in their playoff runs.
-- The Padres have lost ten in a row to pare their Western Division lead to a game over the Giants. The G-Men haven't exactly been charging after them; they're 5-5 in the same span.