J-Mac showed us the good and bad in the opening frame - he K'ed a pair and walked a pair. No runs came of it, but he's already thrown 28 pitches and there's a twin bill tomorrow with a bullpen that's already short (Chris Resop is off and Brad Lincoln is pitching tomorrow).
Mike Leake didn't need that many pitches (he still tossed 21), but the results weren't exactly the same. A leadoff knock by JT and a one-out bomb into left center by McCutch, his 18th, made it 2-0 in a hurry.
McDonald was still having problems with the strike zone; he plunked Drew Stubbs to open the second. So he fed Ryan Hanigan a heater down the middle, and he obliged by bouncing it to short for a quick 6-4-3 DP. Paul Janish K'ed, and J-Mac used just a dozen pitches that frame.
Ryan Ludwick started the Bucco half off with a double to left, but Leake retired the bottom of the order handily, striking out Brandon Wood and McDonald.
Leake opened up with a single in the third, but Brandon Phillips followed with a hopper to second and a 4-6-3 DP. Fred Lewis whiffed. J-Mac has allowed the first runner reach all three innings, but a pair of DPs have been his little helper. The Bucs went down 1-2-3, and it remained 2-0 after three.
Cincy went down cleanly in the fourth. J-Mac has done an efficient job since the first. He's now at 59 pitches, and 28 were in the opening round. The Bucs also sat down quietly; that's nine in a row for Leake.
J-Mac was on cruise control; three up, three down for the Redlegs. The Bucs aren't having much more luck solving Leake as he mowed down the bottom of the order.
McDonald's bubble burst as he hit his sixth inning wall. With an out, Phillips doubled and Lewis walked. That set the stage for Joey Votto, who cranked his 22nd dinger of the year out of the yard in straightaway center, making it 3-2 Reds.
JT answered in a hurry; in a long at-bat, he finally found a pitch he liked and drilled it into right for a lead off triple. Garrett Jones took a couple of borderline strikes, then golfed a slider over the fence in right for his 15th long tater, and the Bucs were back on top, 4-3. With an out, Dewey tried to ape Jones, but his blast was hauled down in front of the 399' mark, and the Bucs were a run ahead.
Jason Grilli came on as J-Mac called it a day. He went six innings, giving up three runs on three hits with three walks, a hit batter and five K's, while tossing 93 pitches.
Grilli K'ed Stubbs, but Hanigan knocked a hung curve up the middle for a knock. Just about then, the dark cloud began to spit and the ground crew scrambled to spread the tarp again. Noah could work with these guys. It was a brief delay. After a quick sprinkle, it brightened up and the crew rolled up the canvas and squeegeed the field to get set to play ball again.
After the delay, Grilli struck out Janish. Yonder Alonso walked after a long at-bat, bringing up a guy you didn't want to see, Phillips. But in another long at-bat, Grilli never gave BP a hitter's pitch and got him to pop out.
Jose Arredondo climbed the mound for Cincy, and K'ed two of three Bucs he faced. Jose Veras came on for Pittsburgh in the eighth and retired the Reds middle of the order in a row. It was a big inning for the Pirates to survive, even if it was Veras' third straight appearance.
It was Hammer time, and he's in his third straight game, too. Todd Frazier, hitting .194, hammered a heater into center to open the ninth. Hanigan walked with an out; ball four looked like it across the knees. Hanny got ahead of pinch hitter Ramon Hernandez 0-2, then hung a slider that he rolled into left to knot the score. Cairo blooped a ball into left to load the bases with one away.
Phillips grounded to short; the Bucs got the force but couldn't turn the DP as the Reds took the lead 5-4. Lewis fought Hanny, fouling off three pitches before walking on a heater that was just upstairs in the yes of the ump Bob Davidson. That loaded the bases for lefty Votto.
Clint Hurdle brought in D-Mac to face him; guess his confidence level in Joe Beimel is pretty low about now. It was a good choice. McCutchen got him swinging at a changeup.
Hey, the results were bad, but so was Hanny's luck. He didn't get the DP, gave up ground ball and bloop knocks, and wasn't getting much help from the man in blue. Still, he's got to get ahead of batters instead of putting them in hitter's counts. His slider has pretty much deserted him, and a one-pitch pony will have problems when the hitters are sitting back on the ol' number one.
Anyway, Dewey opened the ninth with a knock off Francisco Cordero. Josh Harrison ran for him, and was caught stealing on a strike thrown by Hernandez. The toss made it a close call, but TV replays showed Harrison was in. Hurdle griped and got bounced, not that it helped. Neil Walker made the missed call doubly painful when he followed with a hustle double. Xavier Paul flew out short of the track in right, moving The Pittsburgh Kid to third. There he stayed as Wood bounced out to third.
The bullpen couldn't hold on again, and Hurdle probably burned Hanny and Veras for tomorrow with Milwaukee coming to town for a pair. But don't blame the skipper. He managed hard for the win today, but the execution wasn't there. The Bucs were playing with magic in a bottle for awhile; it looks like the genie has escaped.
Chris Narveson goes against Jeff Karstens in the opener tomorrow night. Zack Greinke and Brad Lincoln will get it on during the nightcap.
- There were 29,967 at the Pirates game today, which was plenty enough to push the year's total attendance over top of 2010's - and it's August 21st, with seventeen home dates left to go. Last year's gate was 1,613,399; this year's crowd to date is 1,624,048.
- Paul Maholm will visit Dr. Andrews Monday to get a second opinion on his shoulder strain, which apparently has been bothering him for quite awhile.
- A change to our last post; Jose Tabata can only exercise one $250,000 option buyout, not all three, tweets Jen Langosch of MLB.com..
- The Pirates have signed veteran reliever RHP Aaron Heilman, who was released by the Phils, to a minor league deal and assigned him to Indy. He's got a career line of 35-46, 4.40 ERA in nine seasons.
- As bad as the Bucs have been of late, the odds are they'd be eating Milwaukee's dust no matter how well they played.The Brew Crew has won 22 of their last 25 games, and with their next victory will equal 2010's win total of 77.