Well, Paul Maholm and John Lannan got things off on the right foot; both threw routine scoreless opening frames. PM mowed down the Nats in the second, while Lannan had to put up with consecutive two-out errors by SS Ian Desmond before getting Chris Snyder on a soft liner to second.
Pedro repaid the favor in the third when a hopper to third clanged of his mitt for a two base boot. Maholm was equal to the task; he hasn't allowed a ball out of the infield so far.
The Bucs got a McCutch walk in the third, and that was it. After three, neither pitcher has allowed a hit; Maholm has three K's; Lannan five.
Trouble brewed in the fourth. Ryan Zimmerman got a broken-bat flare single to lead off the frame, on a ball that fooled Jose Tabata, who was off angle and barely missed making a sliding catch; the broken bat probably caused him to think it was hit more solidly.
Mike Morse walked, and Roger Bernardino dropped a bunt single. Pudge hit a fly to deep right; Thrilledge got turned around and allowed it to get over his head. One run scored easily, but the second was dead at home - except Snyder dropped a perfect relay. The Keystone Kops are in action on the field again.
The infield came in with runners on second and third, and Danny Espinosa lined a soft single over Neil Walker, a ball that's probably caught with the infield in normal position. With Nats on the corners, McCutch made a nice running catch of a ball hit to the Notch, but another run scored. A bunt moved Espinosa to second, and Nyjer Morgan singled to left to bring him in. That quickly, it was 5-0.
The Pirates at least rolled a couple of base hits against Lannan in the fourth, stranding runners at second and third. A single and a Pudge dinger the opposite way over the Clemente Wall ended PM's night.
He went 4-1/3 innings, giving up eight hits and seven runs with two walks and three K's. The Pirates had been warming up Daniel McCutchen earlier, but JR waved in Sean Gallagher. The pitcher leads off next inning; we doubt that Gallagher works more than this frame. And he did get out of it and headed for the showers.
The Pirates got on the board when McCutch hit his thirteenth bomb to left just inside the pole; a two out double by Walker, extending his hitting streak to eleven games, went for naught.
D-Mac, the only reliever not to work last night, got in hot water immediately when he walked the pitcher and gave up back-to-back hits to start the sixth. He escaped with just one run when the infield in worked and caught Nymo trying to score from third (and no, he didn't try to slam Snyder; even hockey goons respect 245 pounds). If you're running out of fingers, it's now 8-1.
The Bucs stranded another runner at second in their half. Daniel McCutchen gave up back-to-back leadoff singles in the seventh - not a very quick starter today - but used a 1-6-3 DP to get out of the inning. The Pirates went down quietly, with McCutch reaching via an error. They've committed three, but haven't paid for one.
Chan Ho Park took the horsehide in the eighth. Two ground ball singles turned into another tally. Doug Slaten took over for Lannan, who went seven giving up a run on five hits and a walk with seven K's while throwing 109 pitches.
The Bucs had two on with one out when Ronny Cedeno doubled into left; one run scored but Thrilledge was thrown out at home, down by seven runs. He was waved around by Tony Beasley, and it was a nice throw, but geez! The play wasn't close. Even the coaches don't seem to have passed baseball 101.
Wil Ledezema took the hill in the ninth and rolled through the Nats. Joel Peralto came on to finish up for the Nats. He got them handily, yielding only a two-out, two-strike single to JT.
Not much to say; these guys are just not fundamentally ready to compete every night. Losing ways become as ingrained as winning traditions; let's hope it's not sunk too deeply into the kids yet.
It's sunk in with the fans: the attendance of 30,263 was several thousand shy of the usual SkyBlast promotion crowd; even fireworks and a band can't bring them in. Eventually, you have to offer the customers a good product.
Charlie Morton takes on Jason Marquis tomorrow afternoon.
-- Dewey climbed to number five on the all-time PNC Park home run list when he launched his 34th at the home yard last night. Ahead of him are Jay Bay (61), Craig Wilson (47), Brian Giles (45), and Aramis Ramirez (38).
-- Alan Robinson of the Associated Press has a good read on Neil Walker and his family connection to Roberto Clemente.
-- We failed to mention that Maz's statue dedication is a double celebration - he turns 74 tomorrow.
-- Baseball America's final 2010 Prospect Hot Sheet lists a couple of Bucco farmhands, one hot and the other...well, not.
RHP Phillip Irwin is listed as "Man Among Boys" and OF John Lambo is found under the heading "Not So Hot Sheet."
-- High A Bradenton has joined Altoona in the post-season ranks, as they qualified for the Florida State League playoffs last night by backing into the Southern Division title even though losing 5-3.
-- 3B Eric Avila was selected to the Gulf Coast League postseason all-star team. 3B Diego Goris and DH/C Samuel Gonzalez were named to the Dominican Summer League postseason all-star team.
-- If you're curious, with 27 games left to play, the Pirates are 4-1/2 games up on the Orioles in the Anthony Rendon sweepstakes next June.
-- Stephen Strasburg underwent successful Tommy John surgery Friday in Los Angeles. Successful or not, it could keep him out of the starting rotation until the 2012 season.