Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bucs Outlast Phils 11-7

Lefty Raul Valdes came out of the pen and did his job in the first, putting the Bucs away in order. J-Mick, well, not such a hot start. He lost Jimmy Rollins on a full count. Juan Pierre hit into a force to exchange places, and then was nailed stealing by Mike McKenry. Chase Utley, finally back from the DL, worked his first at-bat in a long while to 2-2 and then smacked a curve over the wall in right center to make it 1-0. J-Mick fell behind Carlos Ruiz 3-1, tried to slip a two seamer past him, and watched it disappear into the  seats in left center to make it 2-0. Hunter Pence drew a five pitch walk before Shane Victorino flew out to end the frame 28 pitches after it started.

Casey McGehee drew a 3-2 walk, and so did Neil Walker. Unfortunately, McGehee was caught stealing in between; he stopped between bases, and it looked like crossed up signs for a hit-and-run. Pedro K'ed looking on a pitch that was out of the zone before JT singled to put runners at first and second. Mike McKenry fell behind 0-2, worked the count full, and was rewarded for his eye by getting a juicy heater that he dropped into the left field stands a few few inside the pole to give the Bucs a lightning quick 3-2 lead. Doesn't anybody work around eight hitter any more?

McDonald regained his control and retired the first two batters. The Valdes experiment as a starter came to an abrupt end as he was pinch hit for by...Cliff Lee. He became J-Mick's second K of the frame. Joe Savery, another southpaw, took the ball in the third. Josh Harrison reached when his grounder to short was misplayed by Rollins. Drew Sutton bopped a change to left, but it was snagged by Pierre on the track. Harrison, with Cutch up, was picked off as he headed to second a step early, 1-3-6. If the Bucs could only stay out of their own way... McCutch lined a ball to center, and Victorino made a nice grab to put the Pirates away.

Rollins poked a 1-2 heater on the outside black into left to open the Phils half of the third. Pierre tried to lay down a couple of bunts before topping a hung curve back to the hill for a force. Utley cranked another shot, this one to straight center that Cutch pulled in front of the 407' mark. Pierre swiped second as Ruiz batted. J-Mick went after the red hot Chooch, and got him to line out to Pedro to put up another zip.

Savery tossed McGehee a slider that rode in, and he took it into straight center over the 401' sign for his fourth homer of the year. Walker got a cutter down the middle and he ripped it into center for a double. Pedro rolled over on a slider away, bouncing out to second and moving The Kid to third. JT K'ed swinging at the only strike Savery threw him in five pitches in a pretty poor visit to the plate. The Phils learned their lesson; McKenry was intentionally walked. J-Mick spoiled the strategy by taking a 3-2 cutter into left to score Walker and send The Fort to third. The Bucs were up 5-2.

Pence got ahead 3-0, but J-Mick came back to run the count full and get him on a grounder to short. Victorino was tossed out on a nice bit of fielding by McDonald while trying to bunt his way on; McGehee made a sweet pick to get the out. Wigs bounced out to Pedro, and it was 1-2-3.

It took eight pitches, but Drew Sutton led off the fifth with a walk, and Cutch followed with a line knock to center. McGehee was jammed and flew out weakly to right.  Walker turned on an inside cutter and dropped it into left, plating Sutton and sending Cutch to third. Pedro went down swinging on a slider down and away. JT caused the Phils to switch pitchers; righty Michael Schwimer took the ball in a two-fer switch. JT got ahead 3-0, ran the count full, and softly lined a slider into left to score Cutch and bring Walker to third. The Fort stayed hot by bouncing a ball off Mike Fontenot's glove at third to bring home The Kid and make it 8-2.

Fontenot helped McDonald by going after a borderline 2-0 heater and grounding out to first to start a 1-2-3 frame. Harrison joined the hit parade in the sixth when he led off by taking a heater the opposite way for a knock. Sutton then legged out an infield single to short. The next Bucco trio went down meekly. For the Phils, Utley got a one out single on a roller up the third base side. Ruiz hot into a force, and Pence drilled a heater down the middle into the left center gap to score the catcher as Sutton had trouble cleanly fielding the ball. Victorino worked the count to 2-2, got a center cut fastball and lined it into left to make it 8-4.

That was it for J-Mick. He went 5-2/3 innings giving up four runs on six hits, two walks and three K while hurling 100 tosses. Jared Hughes came in. Placido Polanco grabbed a bat, and while he was up, Victorino stole second. Polanco worked a 3-2 walk off Hughes. Fontenot was retired on a comebacker, and the score after six was 8-4. Lefty Jake Diekman took the hill for Philadelphia in the seventh and tucked the Bucs away easily, K'ing a pair.

Luna opened the inning getting aboard on a Pedro misplay. The Bucs paid when Rollins took a sinker at the knees and drove it into center for a triple. Against all odds, it's becoming a ballgame. Hughes got the hook after that blast, and Tony Watson jogged in from the pen. Pierre smacked a 3-2 sinker into left to make it 8-6, and it shouldn't be long until he's off for second. Utley rolled over on a two strike slider, but the ball rolled through the dirt into right past McGehee, who was holding Pierre, to put runners at the corners with no outs.

Ruiz singled home a run, dropping a catchable ball in front of Tabata. Brad Lincoln got the nod from Clint Hurdle after that. Can't really blame the pitchers; Alvarez started the inning with an error, McGehee froze on a softly hit ball past him, and JT misread another, so the inning should be done, yet there are no outs.

Bad Brad got Pence swinging on a 3-2 hook in the dirt for out number one. Victorino took a 95 mile heater in the air to left for the second out. Jim Thome came up to hit, and Lincoln blew him away on three pitches to complete his hat trick. Still, it's 8-7 now, but at least Jason Grilli and Hanny are set up for the last two frames. Chad Qualls mounted the bump for the eighth. and Alex Presley stepped in to replace Lincoln.

The King drew a 3-2 walk in a pretty good at-bat. Clint Barmes, a defensive sub, moved him to second on a soft roller to third. Sutton got a 2-2 sinker down Broadway and drilled it into right center for a double, chasing Presley home with an insurance run. Cutch did him better. Falling behind 0-2, he took a couple of close balls and then got a 96 MPH sinker that stayed up and knocked it over the fence in right to make 11-7. McGehee smoked an out to the wall in left center, followed by a Walker line knock off a hung slider. Pedro bounced out after a long at-bat, but the Bucs had rebuilt their cushion.

Even with the lead, Grilli came on to try to squelch any remaining drama in the bud. He put the Phils away in order, helped greatly by a sweet diving catch of a slicing Luna shot to right center by Cutch and a ball hauled in at the wall by Presley off Rollin's bat. It was Antonio Bastardo's turn to pitch in the ninth. With two down, he walked Presley, his only blemish of the frame. Hanny came on to put this puppy to bed and did, with a two-out walk to Ruiz his only black mark.

Too bad Brad Lincoln couldn't get a save; his outing may have been the key to tonight's win despite the hot sticks. The Phils pitch-by-committee night didn't work out so well. They used up six arms, as did the Bucs. Both sides could use a deep outing tomorrow afternoon.

AJ Burnett takes on Kyle Kendrick and will try to salvage a split of the series before heading off to visit the red hot Cards.

  • Tonight marked the season high for runs with 11 and hits at 14 for Pittsburgh. The last time they scored 11+ runs in a game was September 22nd, 2010  against the Cards.
  • Neil Walker led the way with three hits, while Andrew McCutchen, Drew Sutton, Mike McKenry and JT had a pair of knocks. McKenry had 4 RBI.
  • J-Mick's franchise-record string of 14 starts without allowing more than three runs ended tonight.

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