Sunday, May 1, 2011

Buc Bats Thunder to 8-4 Win

Who'd thunk it? The Pirates were in a slugfest - and won!

The Bucs gave signs of breaking out in the first, when a McCutch single and Jones walk advanced to second and third with two away, but following the script, Lyle Overbay struck out to strand them.

But they cashed in, and big, in the second. Ubaldo Jimenez, who has had control issues, walked the newly-shaven Ryan Doumit. Pedro dropped a single into center to put runners on the corners, and Ronny Cedeno brought Dewey home on a bunt that he legged out to make it 1-0.

The Pirates looked like they'd be flummoxed again when Charlie Morton popped out trying to bunt and McCutch K'ed. But newly added OF'er Xavier Paul spanked a stand-up triple into center, and Jones followed with a double to make it 4-0.

The Bucs had a pair aboard in the third thanks to walks (one intentional) but Morton K'ed. The Rox got their own two-out mojo working when a pair of singles sandwiched around a walk plated a run.

The Bucs left another runner in scoring position in the fourth when Paul singled and stole second with one away, but there he stayed.

A leadoff double by the Rockies put Morton in a jam in the bottom half of the frame. He got the next two hitters, but a pair of walks with a single between scored one; Morton escaped further damage when a liner by Alfreda Amezaga was snagged by Neil Walker. The game was tightening at 4-2.

Esmil Rogers came on to replace Jimenez in the fifth, and Pittsburgh gave him a taste of two-out thunder. They loaded the bases with one away, and a Morton sac fly brought home a run. McCutch singled off third baseman Jose Lopez's glove to bring home another. Paul walked, and Jones rolled one up the middle to bring home two more and make it 8-2.

The Bucs left a walk on first in the sixth, and the Rox chased Morton in their at-bat. A leadoff single followed by a pair of one-out walks jammed the sacks. Mike Crotta took the ball, and Dexter Fowler doubled in a pair. That brought on Joe Beimel (and Brandon Wood, who went in as part of a two-for-one deal), and he got a K and fly-out to kill the Colorado rally.

Morton went 5-1/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits with four walks and one K.

The seventh went by without any noise; the Pirates fell 1-2-3 and the Rox got only a walk off of St. Mary's Joe, who did a great job of keeping the Rockies at bay. The eighth also went by without a peep. The Bucs got a single from Overbay, and Jose Veras put the Rox down in order with a pair of whiffs.

Wood had a two-out knock in the ninth, and it was Joel Hanrahan to the hill. Amezaga started it with a single. No sweat; he popped up Todd Helton and in a tough eight-pitch at-bat, Troy Tulowitzki bounced into a 6-4-3 DP. No save, but he closed out another one as the Bucs took the rubber game and the series from Colorado.

The Pittsburgh attack did it all today. They banged out twelve hits, drew seven walks, and stole two bases while going 5-for-15 with RISP and driving in five two-out runs. The top of the order was particularly tough. McCutch, Paul and Jones went 6-14 with 2 walks, 6 RBI, 2 runs scored and two stolen bases, more than making up for Walker wearing the collar today.

It was quite a welcome change from the past week's trials at the plate.

Charlie Morton ran his record to 3-1 with a 3.54 ERA in 38-1/3 innings. His biggest red flag so far this season is the 23/19 walk-to-whiff ratio, and that needs to improve if he's to enjoy continued success.

Pittsburgh visits San Diego tomorrow. James McDonald faces Aaron Harang.

-- Both sides issued seven walks. Most were due to command issues - Morton and Jimenez are wild children - but plate umpire Mark Carlson contributed, too, squeezing the strike zone for both teams.

-- The Pirate bullpen went into today with the league's best ERA of 2.19, and just tacked on 3-1/3 innings worth of goose eggs on top of that.

-- This is the fourth road series win for the Pirates in 2011, equaling their entire 2010 total.

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