Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bucs Grind Out 3-2 Win Over Cubs

KC got off to a quick start; five pitches, two outs, thanks muchly to Garrett Jones tumbling backhand grab on David DeJesus' soft liner in right. Looked pretty good against rookie Anthony Rizzo, too, as Correia quickly jumped ahead of the first baseman 0-2. KC tried to pump a heater past him, but Rizzo clobbered it over the Clemente Wall to make ti 1-0 early. The Bucs used the long ball to tie it; Neil Walker took a slider to right against Ryan Dempster to knot the score after one.

Correia walked Steve Clevenger on five pitches to start the second, then used one more to pick him off as he broke way early on his way to stealing second. Luis Valbuena whiffed, but it wouldn't be that easy; Darwin Barney doubled. KC has become quite the strikeout artist in the past three games, and fanned Tony Campana to end the frame. Dempster struck out the side swinging; blowing his 90 MPH fastball past the Buccos like he was Rapid Ryan.

In the third DeJesus hit what looked like a homer with one away, but the umps huddled and called it a ground rule double because of fan interference. An out later, KC was ahead of Rizzo 0-2, wasted a couple, then watched him roll a slider into right to plate DeJesus. The Bucs went down in order.

The fourth was a 1-2-3 inning for both clubs. There was one hit in the fifth, and it was a big one for the Bucs. The Fort worked a 3-2 count off Dempster and then smacked a slider off the left field pole to tie the game at 2. In the sixth, Rizzo was up, this time with one out. KC got ahead of him 1-2 - and walked him. It didn't hurt this time; he finished up the frame with a pair of routine outs.

It was KC's last inning. He went six frames, giving up two runs on four hits, two walks, and four strikeouts while hurling 78 pitches.Josh Harrison led off the sixth as his pinch hitter and flew out. Alex Presley was down 0-2, but knocked a splitter into right for the Bucs third hit. Walker whiffed, but with two down, a Cutch liner into center on a 1-2 heater put Bucs on the corners. Dempster dropped a 1-1 splitter down the middle just under Jones' knees, and he lined it into right for a two bagger to put the Bucs up 3-2.

Jared Hughes toed the rubber in the seventh, and put away the Cubbies on a K and two grounders. Scott Maine grabbed the ball for Chicago (after Dempster let his frustrations out on the dugout cooler at getting yanked). He got Pedro to bounce out, then gave way to Manny Corpas. He sat down McKenry on strikes and Clint Barmes on a grounder. Jason Grilli (and Gorkys Hernandez) joined the fray for the Pirates in the eighth.

After an opening punchout, DeJesus lined Grilli's first pitch heater into right for a single. A Castro fly out and Rizzo fan job ended the frame. Shawn Camp took the hill for the Cubs and retired the Pirates in order. And that made it Hanny time. Gorkys made a very nice running catch in right to deny LaHair's leadoff extra base bid. Clevenger grounded out to The Kid, and to the fans delight, Luis Valbuena went down swinging at a slider as the Bucs salvaged a game against Chicago 3-2. Nice to have a drama-free save.

KC is now 8-6 after Joel Hanrahan's 29th save and 75th as a Bucco. Well, fasten your seat belts; looks like the Bucs are gonna have to grind it out for the last two months of the season. Time is tickin' away; we'll see how many more aces the FO has up its sleeve by Tuesday.

A.J. Burnett takes on lefty Dallas Keuchel at Houston tomorrow as the Bucs pack their bags.
  • Kevin Correia won his sixth straight decision; gonna be interesting to see how the Pirates handle Wandy Rodriguez joining the staff. They play straight through until August 1st, take a day off, and then dive in for 20 in a row. Could a six man rotation be in the cards?
  • PNC Park was home to 33,935 fans today, the highest ever for a 12:35 weekday start at PNC Park. Wonder if they came to see Zoltan , the Buccos, or a little of both?
  • The Fort's homer was #107 on the year for Pittsburgh, equaling last year's team total - in July.
  • Why is Pittsburgh looking for an outfielder? How about because the Pirates have played eight left fielders and seven right fielders so far this year.
  • The Pirates home winning streak of eight straight series came to an end yesterday.
  • Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk wrote that for his five years, Jason Kendall was on a Hall of Fame path before being injured.

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