How 'bout those Buccos? They overcame a pair of Jay Bruce dingers to outlast the Cincy Reds 5-3 today behind the strong pitching of up-and-down James McDonald.
The Bucs snoozed through the first. The Reds started off with a soft Chris Heisey knock, followed by a drive to right center by Edgar Renteria. Heisey was head-down and on his horse; unfortunately for him, so was McCutch. He ran down a ball slicing away from him, made a diving grab, lobbed it into Neil Walker and doubled up Heisey.
The Bucs juiced the bases on Johnny Cueto in the second with one away with a pair of walks and a Lyle Overbay knock. But Ronny Cedeno went down swinging and J-Mac lined out to shallow center. The first Red batter of the frame, Jay Bruce, did what RC and McDonald were hoping to do: he homered to center.
Both sides went down in order in the third, and made a little noise without raising a threat in the fourth. For the Bucs, Dewey singled with two outs.
For Cincy, Brandon Phillips had a one-out knock, and with two away went for second. But this season, there's a new and somewhat improved Dewey behind the dish, and he caught Phillips. Doumit is 5-for-23 in his throw-out rate, or 22%, close to his career average of 24%.
The fifth started out with RC and J-Mac striking out swinging. But the Bucs had a bolt or three of two-out lightning in the sticks today. McCutch doubled, and the X-Man singled him home to knot the score. Garrett Jones walked, and Neil Walker lashed a double into center, bringing them both home.
McDonald gave up a lead-off knock, and then quietly set down the next three Red Stockings.
Ryan Doumit went the opposite way to open the sixth, and his fly barely snuggled into the left field stands for his fourth long ball of the season. With two away, McDonald singled up the middle and McCutch walked, but there was no lightning left; Xavier Paul whiffed. McDonald put down Cincy 1-2-3.
The Bucs left Walker at second after his one out two-bagger. Phillips ran the Reds out of a possible big frame. He lined a single to left; Paul tossed him out trying to stretch it. A single, line out, and another single brought out Captain Hook; he called on Daniel McCutchen to put out the smoldering embers. D-Mac did, getting his only hitter, Ramon Hernandez, on a gentle roller to Walker.
J-Mac went 6-2/3 innings, giving up seven hits but only one run, with a walk and 4 K's.
Pedro walked to open the eighth; pitcher Nick Masset shot himself in the foot when he threw away Cedeno's ball trying for a force at second. After a pop out, McCutch came through again with a double, scoring one and putting Buccos at second and third. Masset came back with a K of Paul, and got Matt Diaz on a grounder. They left some ducks on the pond again, but were up 5-1 with six outs remaining.
Jose Veras took the ball, and got two outs sandwiched around a walk. With Joey Votto up, Clint Hurdle called on Joe Beimel for the lefty-lefty match up. Dewey let one squirt away, and Votto singled the run in.
The Bucs went down without a peep in the ninth, and Joel Hanrahan came to finish up. It wasn't the best start; Bruce smacked another homer. But Hanny settled in and put down the next three to notch his twelfth save of the campaign.
Pittsburgh had lots of chances to put this one to bed early; they were 3-of-13 with RISP and stranded 10. But you should win more games than you lose with five runs, and the Bucs come home to PNC Park with a little swagger and the thanks of at least the Cards, who are back on top of the Central by 1/2 game.
And Pittsburgh is still, even after that hideous streak, only four back in the loss column.
Jeff Karstens will face Brad Penny of the Tigers tomorrow night as Jimmy Leyland comes home for three days.
-- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs looks at Charlie Morton's splits.