Boy, it's been a long year for the Zachster. And it got even longer tonight. With one out in the first, the Braves scored a run after three straight singles.
After a second out, the lefty walked Matt Diaz to load the bases for Alex Gonzalez. He delivered a bloop single into center to score two more, and it was 3-0 before the Bucs got off the field.
The Pirates had some two out gumption, too. Neil Walker, Garrett Jones, and Pedro singled to load the sacks with two away, the same situation Atlanta had a few minutes earlier. But Dewey sat down, looking at a sinker for strike three.
In the second, Zach's mound opponent Derek Lowe doubled. Duke gave up a single and a walk to load them, and JR had seen enough. In came D-Mac. We'll spare you Duke's line, but his ERA is now 5.47.
He got a pop out, and then walked a run home. McCutchen straightened up after that, but it was 4-0 Bravos. The Pirates went down 1-2-3; so much for chipping away early.
D-Mac got clocked in the third. He faced seven batters; six got aboard. Sean Gallagher finally got the call; now we know why there were so many pitchers invited north in September. Gallagher cleaned up D-Mac's mess, but it was 8-0.
McCutch led off the Bucco frame with a knock; he stayed at first. Gallagher, defying the odds, shut down the Braves in the fourth. Pedro led off with a single, and an out later, he was erased on a John Bowker 6-4-3 DP.
With one out in the fifth, Brian Bass walked a pair and hit a batter, but escaped with just a run on a sac fly. Pittsburgh broke through in their half. Thrilledge singled with one out, followed by McCutch and JT knocks to make it 9-1. Then it was Justin Thomas' turn.
He got two quick outs, then two soft singles and a walk loaded them. Thomas got Lee to ground out, and the Braves had a rare goose egg posted on the board. At this point, the Braves have nine runs yet stranded 15 runners! Life should get easier; Bobby Cox is already bringing in the bomb squad.
The Bucs did nada in their dibs, bouncing out three times. JR joined Cox in emptying the bench; he penciled in Argenis Diaz, Jason Jaramillo, Alex Presley and Brandon Moss.
Steven Jackson took the hill for the seventh. He threw the first 1-2-3 inning of the night against Atlanta; maybe they're finally pooped from running the bases. Lowe was worn out; Scott Proctor took the hill. He got the Bucs in order; Alex Presley's first MLB at-bat was a swinging K at a ball in the dirt.
Wil Ledezema worked the eighth, and picked up a pair of strikeouts. Michael Dunn came on for Atlanta. Brandon Moss struck out swinging; at least the heater he missed was over the plate. The Pirates went three up, three down, and Chan Ho Park drew the short straw for the ninth.
He got three ground outs. Christhian Martinez was called on to close it out for Atlanta. Pedro greeted him with a double off the Clemente Wall. Pedro Ciriaco got his first MLB at-bat and dinged an RBI double into left for his first hit. Welcome aboard, matey!
Two outs later, Jaramillo drew a walk, putting the tying run about four seats down on the bench. Presley got his first hit, an infield single, to load the bases. Moss then hit a swinging bunt single to third to get his first MLB hit and RBI of the 2010 season.
Martinez, a victim of bad luck rather than bad pitching, got the hook. Billy Wagner took the ball to face Walker. Three swings and misses of his heat put tonight's game in the books.
Well, if you needed an intro to the new Pirates, tonight was your game. JR trotted out 22 players (and Cox used 18). That brought the Pirate total of players used in a game this year to fifty, setting the franchise season record. Ah, September baseball.
Paul Maholm takes on Homer Bailey and the Reds Friday.
-- Neil Walker's 15 game hitting streak bypassed Johnny Ray's 14 gamer in 1982 in the Pirate rookie annuls. Next up is Rennie Stennett's 1971 string of 18 games.
RJ Anderson of Fangraphs has a piece about the Pittsburgh Kid.
-- Tonight will be the final game that Bobby Cox manages in Pittsburgh. The Pirates honored the occasion with a pre-game tribute for the ol' skipper. The Pirates presented him with a check for $5,000 for his favorite charity, the Homeless Pets Foundation.
Cox is hangin' 'em up after the season following a quarter century with the Braves and 29 years total as da' man under his belt. He'll finish with over 2,500 wins.
-- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Major League Trade Rumors has a piece on the Buc's upcoming 2011 rotation. You know it's a dismal outlook when the lede is "Many of the Pirates' most exciting pitchers are still in the minor leagues, so..."
-- When Jim Callis of Baseball America was asked about the potential of the Altoona rotation, he said "Morris has the most upside, if he can stay healthy. I like all of those guys to varying degrees, and Wilson's stuff kicked up a notch, but they're more likely No. 3 or 4 starters than frontline guys."
The Curve staff's Big Four are Bryan Morris, Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, and Jeff Locke.
-- Altoona jumped off to a 3-0 lead in their playoff game against Harrisburg, but fell 10-5. Rudy Owens gave up five runs in the second and Mike Dubee gave up five more in the eighth.
-- Sid the Kid and some other Pens took BP at PNC this afternoon. Crosby, a lefty, hit one out over the 370' mark, chronicled by Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy, who has a vid to go with his story.