The Bucs got a McCutch leadoff single off Jorge Sosa; the Fish got nada off Charlie Morton but a pair of whiffs in the opening round.
In the second, the Pirates made some noise. A John Bowker single and Ronny Cedeno double, followed by an intentional walk to Chris Snyder, juiced the sacks with one away. A Morton K and a fly to left by McCutch ended the threat. Morton kept pounding, getting the Fish 1-2-3 with another strikeout.
Neil Walker drew a one-out pass in the third; Pedro forced him at second and Garrett Jones flew out. CM's streak ended at eight batters when Sosa rolled a grounder into left. He whiffed the next batter; Morton has 5 K's after three.
John Bowker started the fourth with a soft lob single into left center; he was erased stealing. Cedeno followed with a single to center. Snyder and Morton went down, making six Pirates who died on base so far.
Osvaldo Martinez singled and Logan Morrison doubled to start the Marlin half of the fourth. After striking out Dan Uggla, he worked carefully to Gaby Sanchez and walked him to load the sacks. But Mike Stanton foiled the plot with a chopped infield single, and Chad Tracy followed with a sac fly. Morton got Chris Hatcher swinging, but Florida was up 2-0.
The Fish brought on Brian Sanches in the fifth; apparently they thought Sosa's luck wouldn't hold much longer (maybe his 70 pitches had something to do with the change, too.) Good choice; he set the Bucs down in order for the first time tonight. Morton was back in rhythm; he did the same, picking up his eighth strikeout.
Sanches kept mowing down Buccos in the sixth. Morton was doing the same, picking up another K, when Cedeno booted a ball with two outs, but Stanton flew out deep to right center to keep the deficit at two.
Jose Veras climbed the hill in the seventh for Florida. He got the Bucs in order; that's eleven in row that have gone down. Morton was pinch hit for; he went six innings, giving up two runs on four hits with a walk and a career-high nine K's, throwing 87 pitches. He's gotten himself right back into consideration for the 2011 mix. Chris Resop came on and picked up where Morton left off, striking out a pair.
It was Leo Nunez's turn in the eighth for the Fish. JT broke the Bucs' consecutive out streak at twelve when he drew a one-out walk, but it was to no avail. Walker lined a change up into left, but right at Morrison, and Pedro grounded out.
Joel Hanrahan took the ball, and walked the first batter, Emilio Bonifacio; Martinez followed with an infield single to Cedeno on a playable ball. Morrison flew out, advancing the lead runner to third. But Hanny bore down and whiffed Uggla and Sanchez.
He now has 100 K's for the first time in his career, and has a puncher's chance at finishing as the team leader; Paul Maholm has 102 whiffs. He's the first Pirate since Don Robinson in 1984 to record 100 strikeouts from the bullpen; the Caveman struck out 101.
Clay Hensley came on to close out the game. The Pirates put runners on first and second with two away on a Bowker walk and a DY pinch single, the first Buc hit since the fourth inning. To add to the drama, a wild pitch moved the runners up a station for Dewey, hitting for Hanrahan. He went down looking at a hanging curve, and the Pirates went down 2-0.
Early chances missed cost them the game; the Fish bullpen, a pretty strong collection of arms, shut them down over five innings. Hey, one to go before we get an early jump on the hot stove league.
In tomorrow afternoon's finale, Brian Burres will face Anibal Sanchez.
-- Alex Sanabia, the scheduled Fish starter, was scratched. Jorge Sosa took his spot. Ain't September grand? Actually, it didn't have anything to do with looking at young talent; Sanabia had a stiff elbow, and like Paul Maholm, was held out as a precaution; October is a lousy month to get hurt.
-- Pedro Alvarez twisted an ankle running out a ball in the eighth inning; he stayed in the game. It may or may not be enough to keep him out of tomorrow's finale, depending on how it reacts overnight.
-- Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez had their hit streaks ended tonight, at fourteen and eleven, respectively.
-- First Lastings Milledge pulled a Houdini in the Pirate lineup; now it's Ryan Doumit, who hasn't appeared in a game since Tuesday (he pinch hit tonight). Dewey bumped Thrilledge; it looks like John Bowker has bumped him. The brass know what they have with Milledge and Doumit; late September is the right time to evaluate Bowker. Now if they'd have done the same thing at shortstop...
-- Pittsburgh's road record is 17-63, with one game remaining. The Pirates need to win it to avoid matching the 1963 Mets for the worst away record by a club playing 81 road games.
-- One thing that can be said about the 2010 Pirates is that they did provide some last inning drama. They've won fifteen games during their last at-bat - and lost sixteen the same way.