Monday, August 22, 2011

Bucs, Brew Crew Trade KOs

No sense in dragging out the opening tilt. The Brewers scored twice in the fourth and four times in the eighth after the first two batters were retired. Then they scored twice more in the ninth before making an out. All in all, it ended up a lopsided 8-1 loss for the Bucs, their thirteenth in a row to the Brew Crew.

The Bucs had eight hits, but went 0-for-8 with RISP. They stranded a lead-off double and one-out triple, scoring only on Ryan Ludwick's first Pirate homer in the eighth.

Jeff Karstens went seven innings of pretty strong ball, giving up two runs on six hits, and with a little better play behind him may have thrown a goose egg. Tony Watson and Joe Beimel got clocked in relief, as has been the norm lately, and a taut game turned into a chuckle for Milwaukee in a hurry.

Hey, when Mike McKenry finished the game at third base after Steve Pearce injured his finger, the first time he's ever manned the hot corner as a professional player at any level, you know it's been a long day, even if it's only halfway over. But a double header always gives you a chance at redemption.

If the Bucs were to redeem themselves in the second game, it would be by digging themselves out of a hole. Corey Hart homered on the second pitch. With that long fly, Hart and Ricky Weeks became the first duo in MLB history to have 4 lead-off homers for the same team in one season. There was more: Nyjer Morgan singled, stole second, went to third on a fly, and scored on a bouncer to second.

The Bucs halved the lead on a JT single, a grounder to move him to second, and Neil Walker's RBI knock.

It went quietly until the fourth. A walk to Prince Fielder on a 3-2 pitch and a boot by Ronny Cedeno put runners at the corners with no outs.  Josh Harrison fielded a bouncer to third, went to second for the force, and Neil Walker made a heads up play throwing behind Fielder to catch him in a rundown and start your typical 5-4-2-5-1 DP. Thank you, Prince. Dewey took advantage to tie the game on a homer to straightaway center, his seventh.

The game stayed that way through the fifth and sixth; Bad Brad had settled in nicely. But he was on a pitch count of 75 and met it, giving up two runs on three hits with a walk and a K. Bad Brad was dealing - he gave up just one hit after the second batter. D-Mac trotted in for the seventh. He gave up a hit and walked Zack Greinke on four pitches, but escaped without any damage.

Clint Hurdle's love affair with the bunt and the Pirates inability to lay one down oddly enough paid off big time. Garrett Jones dumped a single to center to start the frame. Matt Diaz fouled his first bunt try, and then got brushed ever so gently by the next pitch. Josh Harrison looked like a T-baller trying to bunt twice; then he dumped  a two-strike lob shot barely over the infield dirt to score Jones; he scampered to second when Ryan Braun's throw went to third.

Ronny Cedeno struck out on three pitches, none a strike, in a terribly wasted at-bat. McCutch, getting a blow in the nightcap, pinch hit. Greinke bounced a 3-2 pitch to the dish; both he and Jonathan Lucroy, the catcher, initially chased the ball and Diaz skidded home.

JT drove a pitch off the Clemente Wall to bring home another run, and Frankie De La Cruz took the ball. He'd have it awhile, too. With the infield in, Xavier Paul dinked a ball that Braun couldn't run down to plate McCutch. Walker drew a walk to load the bases, and Dewey lined a single to bring in Tabata. Jones almost had his first grand salami, but the long fly to the track in right tallied another run. A wild pitch capped the Buc run; it was 9-2. The seven-run inning was the Bucs biggest outburst of the year.

Chris Leroux climbed the hill and put up a zippo. De La Cruz was out for the duration for Milwaukee; this time around he put the Pirates down cleanly. Leroux sealed the win in impressive fashion, K'ing the last two Brewers as the Bucs earned a split with a 9-2 nightcap victory.

Pittsburgh took their first win of the year against the Brewers, snapping a 13 game streak of futility. And thanks to strong efforts by Jeff Karstens and Brad Lincoln, the Pirate bullpen, down to the few and the proud going into tonight, is now set up for the rest of the series.

Marco Estrada and Ross Ohlendorf get it on tomorrow.

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