KC started Starlin Castro with five straight heaters; he lined the last one into center and then stole second. Darwin Barney followed by smacking a single through the left side; Castro stopped at the hot corner. Aramis Ramirez lined the next pitch, a slider, into center and it was 1-0 Cubs without an out. Carlos Pena flew out to the wall in straight center and Barney went to third.
Marlon Byrd fished for a two strike slider; he hit it back to the box. Barney was caught in a long, five throw rundown, allowing the runners to get to second and third with two away. Geovany Sota bounced out to Ronny Cedeno, so a sticky inning was resolved without too much damage; it was 1-0 Cubs, Bucs coming to bat.
McCutch worked the count full on Randy Wells and then lined a heater into left for a single. He got to second on a fake break when Soto, thinking he was on the move, chugged the ball into center. After seven pitches and a 3-2 count, Garrett Jones caught a changeup and launched it over the centerfield wall, his eleventh of the year, and the Bucs had the lead back quickly.
Wells retired the next trio of Bucs routinely, K'ing Neil Walker and Ryan Ludwick, and the Bucs had a 2-1 lead after a frame.
Alfonso Soriano went down swinging at a slider to open the second. On a 2-1 pitch, he came inside with a slider to Tyler Colvin; he ripped it deep over the Clemente seats and into the Allegheny on the hop to tie the game with his third homer of the season. Wells rolled a slider up the middle; Castro lined another slider into left. Barney hit weakly into a 4-6 force, and A-Ram knocked a first pitch hung curve over the center field fence for his twentieth of the year and a 5-2 Cub lead. KC struck out Pena, but lots of damage has been done.
Wells left Pedro a changeup down the middle; he ripped it into right for a double. Cedeno smoked a slider, but his was hit right at Pena. McKenry went down swinging, missing a pair of sliders. Correia popped out, and the Bucs blew a chance to chip away.
Byrd hit one in the deep shortstop hole; Cedeno made the pick nicely but couldn't throw him out. Soto got a 2-2 slider right down the middle, and he bombed it over the center field wall for his tenth homer. The Cubs are taking BP with Correia today; three dingers in three innings and not a one cheap. Soriano got a belt high slider; he banged it over the fence in left center for his eighteenth. The wheels are rolling all over the yard tonight.
Anthony Watson got the call, and it's just what the overtaxed pen didn't need; a two inning start. That's all Correia lasted, giving up eight runs on ten hits (four went yard) and a pair of strikeouts. It took 59 pitches to get six outs, and every Cub in the lineup save Pena got a hit and scored off him.
Watson got the next two Cubs before walking Castro, who now has five hits and a walk in the last eleven innings of PNC Park play. Barney got a heater under the letters and ripped it into left. A-Ram popped out but geez: 8-2 in the top of the third.
And hey, don't worry about the rest of it; the fat lady was tuned up after that. Byrd and Soriano hit solo shots in the fourth of Watson to make it 10-2. Paul gave McCutch a blow in center in the seventh. After Jason Grilli and Chris Resop threw scoreless frames, Joe Beimel was touched up for a run on a double and two out knock (knocks, actually) to make it 11-2. Jose Veras put up an eighth inning goose egg, and the Bucs stirred into action.
Garrett Jones was still among the living; he took a first pitch Ramon Ortiz heater yard to right center to start the eighth, and Walker beat out a ball to second. Pearce flew out short of the track in right center, followed by Brandon Wood, who gonged a slider for his sixth of the year off the foul pole in left to make it 11-5 after eight. It's not quite rally cap time yet.
But it was Hanny time. He sat through three extra inning losses, but is in to mop up. Go figure. He gave up back-to-back singles to open the frame, then settled down and put Chicago away. Still, kind of a waste of 18 pitches; we were sorta hoping to see Matt Diaz toss a frame.
Old bud John Grabow came out to do the honors in the ninth. McKenry greeted him with a double to left. Matt Diaz rolled a one out knock into left to put runners on the corners. Jones got into another pitch, but this one stayed comfortably in the park but plenty deep enough for a sac fly. Eric Fryer K'ed on a foul tip fastball, and the Cubs had an 11-6 romp in the park tonight.
Hey, the old timers said the innings were gonna catch up to the staff; the stat crowd called for an inevitable regression to the mean. Whatever, the Pirate starting pitching isn't giving them much of a chance to win lately, and killing the bullpen while they're at it.
Ohlie is about due back and Brad Lincoln is waiting in Indy; it may be time for the six man rotation, even if it leaves the team a man shy on the bench. At any rate, 54 is tonight's magic number: Pittsburgh has 54 wins, 54 losses, and 54 games to go.
Matt Garza takes on Charlie Morton tomorrow as the Bucs try to end their free fall.
- The six Cub home runs hit at PNC Park tonight ties the field record. The Giants hit six North Shore homers on August 4th, 2002 in a 10-5 win. Five G-Men homered off four Pirate pitchers. David Bell hit a pair and Kris Benson gave up three. The last time the Pirates gave up six long flies was August 9th, 2006 in Houston.
- The Cubs rapped out 21 hits, their most since they had 23 on April 4th, 2005, at Arizona.
- The Bucs had a nice crowd tonight of 26,109.
- George King III reported in the New York Times that "According to two Pirates sources, the Yankees came close to dealing Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates for pitcher Brad Lincoln. That would have cleared a spot for Montero. 'It was very close but couldn’t agree on the value of the players,' a source said." (Thanks to Charlie Wilmoth at Bucs Dugout, who speculated Pittsburgh wanted a second player as part of the deal).
- Scott McCauley of the Indy Indians tweeted that the Pirates acquired SS Brian Bocock from AAA Lehigh Valley (Phillies) and sent him to Indy as C Wyatt Toregas went on DL. The Tribe expects SS Pedro Ciriaco to join the team Thursday. Bocock is an organizational pick up; Indy played yesterday with no middle infield reserve, three outfielders and five catchers because of call-ups and injuries.