Well, the first inning started off fine. McCutch walked on four pitches, and stole second. Two fly outs later, Ryan Ludwick dropped a bloop into left to chase McCutchen home, and the Bucs had a quick 1-0 lead on Jonathan Sanchez and the G-Men.
It didn't hold up too long. With two outs, Kung Fu Panda connected on his thirteenth homer of the year, a solo shot (what else?) lined over the right field wall off Jeff Karstens, and it was back to square one.
The Bucs went down in order in the second; ditto for the Giants.
Karstens drew a 3-2 walk to open the third and that cost Sanchez when McCutch crushed his sixteenth homer of the season over the left field fence. Steve Pearce walked. Garrett Jones bounced to first; Aubrey Huff stepped on the base for the out and had Pearce trapped.
But shortstop Orlando Cabrera threw the ball away in the rundown, and Pearce ended up on third. He came in an out later on Matt Diaz's knock, and it was 4-1 Pittsburgh.
Eli Whiteside dropped a bunt down the left side for a hit, and Sanchez moved him to second. Karstens retired the next pair of Bay City boppers on a pop and whiff, and left him standing.
The bottom of the Pirate order K'ed in the fourth. The Giants got one back when Huff doubled with one away and came home on an out later on a bouncer up the middle by Cabrera to make it 4-2 after four innings.
McCutch led off the fifth with a walk. A wild pitch moved him second, a Pearce grounder to third, and a Jones dink into right brought him home to make the score 5-2. Santiago Casilla came on, and Ludwick greeted him with a single through the infield. Diaz ended the frame with a bouncer to short and a 6-4-3 DP.
The Giants threatened to cut into the lead. Whiteside singled, and an out later, so did Andres Torres, who sent him to third. Torres stole second, but JK was up to the task. He K'ed Keppinger and got Pablo Sandoval on a grounder to keep the lead at three.
Guillermo Mota took the hill in the sixth, and gave up just a two-out knock to McHenry. Cody Ross singled with an out and Aaron Rowland followed with a two-out single. Karstens nailed Whiteside swinging to keep it 5-2 after six. Don't look now, but the notorious soft-tosser JK has nine K's; his career high was seven.
Moto had his problems in the seventh. He plunked McCutch, who stole second. Then he issued a free pass to Neil Walker. That brought Jeremy Affeldt out of the bullpen. Jones grounded out, moving the pair up a station, and Ludwick was intentionally walked to juice the sacks.
Diaz dropped a ball the opposite way to score a run, and Brandon Wood rolled a single into center just under the second baseman's leather to bring home two more. Affeldt finished off the bottom of the order, but it's now 8-2 Buccos.
Karstens called it a day. He went six innings, giving up two runs on eight hits with nine K's. He threw 99 pitches. D-Mac came on; he sure does get a lot of work for a guy who's thrown a quadzillion baseballs lately. He walked Mike Fontenot on four pitches. But a fly out and 4-3 DP on a roller up the middle finished off the frame.
After a D-Mac line out, McCutch was issued his third free pass of the day. Affeldt came back to set down Walker and Jones swinging to get the Giants to the dish. Brad Lincoln came on. Sandoval walked on four pitches. But he settled down and got a pair of whiffs and a ground out to take it into the ninth.
Ramon Ramirez took the ball for San Francisco. Ludwick greeted him with a ringing double to left. Xavier Paul worked a 3-2 walk off RR. Wood took the edge off by pulling a slider to short to start a 6-4-3 twin killing. Ronny Cedeno salvaged the run by legging out an infield single to short to make it 9-2.
Hanny came on in the ninth, just out of habit, we suppose. It took him four pitches to get the first two outs and six more to strike out Fontenot.
A change of scenery did the Buccos some good. Picking up a dozen strikeouts doesn't hurt the cause, either. It was a good day all around. With an off day tomorrow, the bullpen should finally be straight when they hit Miller Field to meet the Brewers Friday. Even if it's not for all the marbles, the Brew Crew series is still a big one as a measuring stick for the team.
Paul Maholm takes on Chris Narveson in the opening game at Milwaukee.
- McCutch had one hit, a two run homer, three walks and was HBP for a 2 RBI, 4 RS day. Oh, and he stole two bases. Not a bad day at lead off.
- Derrek Lee's hand continues to be a problem. He was scratched today after originally being penciled in the lineup.
- Rudy Owens was placed on the minor league DL with shoulder fatigue.
- Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated says that Gerritt Coles is looking for near Steven Strasburg money - and he signed for $15M. Scott Boras sure knows how to play hardball; looks like it'll go down to midnight again.
- Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports has a story on the importance of a winning record for Pittsburgh this year. Guess it beats all the bad joke stories that were ground out last season.