J-Mac dodged some heavy fire early on. In the second, a bloop and swinging bunt single sandwiched around a line knock loaded the bases for the Astros with no one away. But a pop out, whiff and grounder later, the runners were stranded.
Going into the bottom of the fourth, the score was zeroes. JA Happ had given up three singles in that span, but four K's and a DP ball cleaned that up pretty well. J-Mac didn't quite have that fortune in his upcoming inning.
A lead off walk was chased to third by a single. A squib that didn't travel 10' scored the game's first run. Dewey fielded it, looked the guy at third back, and went to first. The runner broke home with the peg, and Garrett Jones' throw was well off the mark, allowing the trail runner to get to third. Then McDonald walked Happ. An RBI bunt single followed, played pretty poorly by the Bucs, and that brought home another run.
And guess what? That's how it stayed. Happ entered the game with a 6+ ERA and the most losses of any NL pitcher, but went seevn scoreless frames against the Bucs, giving up three hits, whiffing six and walking one. Fernando Rodriguez and Mark Melanchon tucked the Bucs in over the last two frames.
J-Mac did OK. he went six, giving up two runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and six K's. Tony Watson, Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan kept the game close. Hanny was a bit of a surprise; Hurdle put him in with two outs in the eighth for no reason other than to let him face a batter, as far as we can figure.
Ya know, the Pirates used to have a swagger and energy to them not so long ago along with the belief that they could win on any given night. Now they look like the rag-tag zombies of 2009, after the team was blown up at the trade deadline. So we'll see now if the Clint Hurdle mystique can get them back on their game in September, or if the lackluster play continues through the last four weeks.
Not one Pirate reached second base tonight. They scored six runs on thirteen hits in the series and struck out 34 times, against Wandy Rodriguez, Henry Sosa and JA Happ. The Astros have the first draft pick for 2012 virtually cinched with a 47-90 record (and that's after the sweep) and lost Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence from the lineup. Geez.
The Pirates come home tomorrow for an afternoon make-up game against the Dodgers. Pirates castoff Dana Eveland will go against Brad Lincoln.
- The Bucco bench was a man short today; no one was called up to replace Matt Diaz. It was likely a logistics issue, with Indy playing a day game and the Pirates returning to Pittsburgh on Thursday.
- Jack Wilson was traded to the Atlanta Braves, the home of old Buccos with Nate McLouth, Eric Pinske, Matt Diaz and now Jack Splat. Diaz, BTW, started in RF tonight for Atlanta and went 2-for-3 (singles, of course).