Hey, the Bucs got today's game off on time, even if the skies were an ominous gray. And it was a good start; Kevin Correia worked a 1-2-3 frame, and the Pirates scored the first run of the day.
McCutch doubled on a ball that the wind tossed around the yard, moved to third on a Jose Tabata purpose out roller to second, and came in on Neil Walker's single. The only bad sign was that they Pirates left the sacks juiced when Chris Snyder bounced out to third.
The Nats returned the favor in the second, stranding runners at second and third with two away. The Bucs went quietly in their half, and the Nationals unloaded in the third.
Jason Marquis lined a single into center, as did Danny Espinosa. That put runners on the corners, and Espinosa stole second. After getting ahead of Ricky Ankeil 0-2, Correia decided to nibble and lost him on a walk.
Jayson Werth hit a hard hopper to Pedro, who opted for the force at the plate instead of the around-the-horn DP. It saved a run in the short term, but that extra out would have come in handy. A slow bouncer by Adam LaRouche plated a run, and with two away and two strikes, Michael Morse took a cutter that stayed over the plate into the left field seats to make it 4-1.
Tabata led off with a single, but was erased on a Lyle Ovebay DP. Marquis and Espinosa teamed up for line singles in the fourth, but were stranded at second and third. Pittsburgh came back to tighten the gap.
Garrett Jones walked and Pedro doubled high off the Clemente Wall. Chris Snyder hit a sac fly to plate one run, and Ronnie Cedeno, now in a dogfight for his job, drilled a double to the Notch to make it 4-3. Correia, with one out, was curiously called on to bunt, and he moved RC over to third. McCutch ended the frame when his one hopper over third was nicely played by Jerry Hairston, who threw over to finish the frame.
The Pirates weren't very aggressive on the paths in the inning; Jones was held at third and Cedeno had a shot at a triple, which would be the first of the year for a Pirate, and was stopped at second. But with a fairly steady drizzle throughout the early innings of the game, the track may have been too slow to push the runners.
Correia couldn't stand success; LaRouche, the first hitter in the fifth, took him deep. Morse followed with a single, but Snyder gunned him out trying to steal, followed by a Hairston K. But a two-out single by Pudge did KC in; Clint Hurdle replaced him with Daniel McCutchen, who got the final out.
For Correia, who didn't have his command today - he was up and his balls were flat - it was a long afternoon. In 4-2/3 innings, he gave up five runs (four earned) on eleven hits with two walks and 2K's; he threw 85 pitches.
The Bucs tried to rally in their half inning with one-out knocks by Overbay and Walker, but groundouts by Jones and Pedro ended the threat. Marquis picked a one-hop throw out of the dirt to save a run; with two hits and that play, he's doing it all for Washington this afternoon.
The sixth and seventh frames went quietly; no one got past first. Mike Crotta and Tyler Clippard both came on in the seventh. Crotta cracked first, in the eighth. Hairston singled, and with an out, the Bucs couldn't turn two on a slow chopper hit by Joey Cora. It cost them when Laynce Nix doubled him home to up the Washington lead to 6-3.
Snyder singled with one away, but Cedeno bounced back to the mound, hitting into the Pirates' third DP of the game. Jose Veras put up a zero in the ninth and Drew Storen did the same for Washington, though not without a moment or two of low comedy.
McCutch got an infield single with one away and motored to third when Jerry Hairston threw away his second ball of the game and Danny Espinosa compounded matters by losing the ball in the stands when he tried to take it out of his glove. Then McCutch gave us the a Lastings Milledge moment when he tagged on a fly ball to right; Jayson Werth threw him out tagging on a bang-bang play.
Hurdle and McCutch argued the play, but it did look like McCutch was out by a hair. Safe or out isn't the point; when you're down by three runs with one at-bat left, why would you even consider taking the risk if you couldn't stroll home?
It's just part of the growing process, we hope.
The Bucs had eleven hits, two walks and reached twice on errors, but four twin killings pretty much negated the attack; they did OK with RISP, going 3-for-10. But they had the lead off hitter aboard for four of the six innings Marquis pitched, stranding seven.
A pair of lefties, Paul Maholm and John Lannan, will work tomorrow night's game.
-- Neil Walker ended an 0-for-13 streak with a first inning RBI single through the shortstop hole.
-- Jeff Karstens is listed as the team's starter for Thursday's game; it appears that he'll be Ohlie's replacement for the duration.
-- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe doesn't think Ryan Doumit is the answer to Boston's problems behind the plate, but mentions that Chris Snyder, who he writes "runs a good game" is available.
-- Scott Olsen is still in extended camp in Florida, rehabbing after his hammy injury. Neal Huntington told MLB.com's Jen Langosch "...he was coming off of an [arm] injury to finish the season last year and probably would have been behind in Spring Training as it was. The hamstring injury ultimately set him back even further."
-- Matt Stairs is still stuck on 99 career pinch hits; he struck out in that role today.