Jose Altuve greeted Wandy Rodriguez with a bloop single to right, and promptly stole second. Tyler Greene missed swinging at a hook for the first out. Three pitches later, Brett Wallace joined him on the bench, also swinging through a curve. Justin Maxwell drew a 3-2 walk as Wandy missed with a change upstairs. Jason Castro bounced out, and it was the Bucs' turn.
Brock Holt banged a two strike single to center to open against Jordan Lyles. Travis Snider bit at a 2-0 heater away, and grounded to third for a force. Cutch golfed a 3-2 low and in heater up the line past third for a double to plate Pittsburgh's first run. Garrett Jones bounced a curve to first, moving McCutch up a base. Pedro went down looking on a 3-2 gift strike. More troubling, though was JT going into RF; Snider tweaked his hammy coming around on Cutch's knock.
Matt Downs started the second trying to bunt for a hit; he was tossed out by Wandy. Jimmy Paredes had more luck; he got aboard on an infield single that Jones deflected. Brandon Laird flew out, but Lyles helped his own cause by singling to center to put Astros on the corners. No prob; Altuve bounced to short to end the frame. The Fort rolled over on a curve and bounced out to third. Presley K'ed swinging at a curve that could have been a pitch out. Clint Barmes swung at all seven pitches Lyles tossed; he missed the last one that almost hit his front foot. Hey, we can see hacking as plate ump Marc Wegner's strike zone is wide on both ends, but geez, it's not to infinity.
Wandy tossed a clean third. With an out in the Bucco half, Holt drilled a heater away to left for his second knock. JT drew a 3-2 walk, and showed pretty good discipline, considering Lyles went to first as often as he did to the dish. Cutch took a 1-2 curve to center and Brock scored with JT stopping at second. Jones smoked a full count fastball well off the plate to short and off Altuve for a knock, bringing home JT and moving Cutch to second. Pedro pulled the first pitch away to second to end the frame on a 4-6-3 note, but it was 3-0 Buccos after three.
It was another 1-2-3 frame for Wand Rod in the fourth. The Fort flew out to open the Pirate portion. Presley K'ed swinging on a 3-2 pitch that was easily ball four, after showing a good eye for the first five pitches. Barmes went down swinging on a ball away and in the dirt; he's seen ten pitches and swung at nine - the one he let go, natch, was a called strike.
Baird broke Wandy's string with a leadoff knock. Lyles tried to bunt once; he was swinging the rest of the way, but got punched out on a borderline strike call. Wandy fell behind Altuve 3-1 and fed him a change that he put a charge into, but Cutch had it measured. Greene flew out on the next pitch, and Rodriguez put another goose egg on the board. Wandy has given up four hits; three were to the 7-8-9 hitters.
After Wandy grounded out, Holt ripped a 3-1 heater off the wall in right for a double, his first extra base hit in the show. JT bounced out to third on a full count. Cutch lined a 3-2 pitch off 3B Laird's leather for a RBI single. That brought in Fernando Rodriguez, who lost GI on a full count curve. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch and came home when Pedro popped up a 3-2 delivery to Greene, who dropped it. The Fort whiffed on a foul tip, but praise the Lord - it's 6-0 and five innings are in in case the second storm front decides to roll through town.
Rodriguez shut down the Astros in the sixth, doing just what all solid pro pitchers should do - nailing down the inning right after your guys put up some runs for you. Chuckie Fick climbed the hill for Houston. Presley finally kept the bat on his shoulders and accepted a walk. Two outs later, Holt banged out his fourth hit. it didn't help; JT had his first throw-away at bat of the night, hacking at three pitches well out of the zone to end the frame.
Wandy is dealing; he tucked away his former teammates and has retired 16-of-17 batters. Lotsa pitchers to choose from in September; Rhiner Cruz came in from the pen for the Bucco seventh. Cutch banged a heater to right to greet him with a single, and that's his fourth hit, too. He didn't last long; Jones ripped a liner to second, and Cutch was caught off first for the 4-3 DP. No one wants to catch Pedro's balls; he reached first on a bad throw by Cruz. The Fort whiffed, and the Bucs were six outs from evening the series.
Chris Resop got the call in the eighth. Wandy worked his second consecutive shutout outing, a 13-inning streak of goose eggs. He went seven frames, giving up four hits and a walk while fanning seven (tying his season high) on an efficient 89 pitches.
Matt Dominguez started off with a single. Strangely, Altuve bunted him to second; we're guessing he was looking to drag a hit. Greene bounced out to move him to third. Wallace got a 2-1 heater on the outside black and sent it to the wall in left for a two-bagger to bring home Dominguez. The bummer part of September and managing with a zillion man roster: Fernando Martinez hit for Maxwell, Tony Watson came in for Pittsburgh, and Chris Snyder batter for Martinez. It worked for Houston; Snyder singled the run in. Castro got a 3-1 pitch that was up and launched it deep to center, where Cutch was waiting, and it was 6-2.
Jose Valdez was next for Houston. With an out, Barmes not only took a ball, but he put a pitch in play and legged out an infield knock. Jeff Clement fouled out to third. Holt was off the bases for the first time tonight when he flew out on a 3-1 pitch. It was Hanny's time to shed some rust, and he finished the game off without much drama outside of a two-out walk.
It was a game the Bucs had to have, and Cutch did what Cutch does - four hits, 3 RBI and a run. Brock Holt was his Boy Robin with four knocks and a pair of runs added to the cause. And a great start by Wandy made it easy. But Cutch and Brock were 8-for-9 while the rest of the club was 2-for-25, and there were more than a couple of ugly at-bats tonight. But hey, if one guy can carry a club, it's McCutch, though a little help would surely be appreciated.
Fernando Abad takes on Kevin Correia tomorrow night.
- Pedro Alvarez was today named the NL Player of the Week. He went 11 for 24 with four home runs, two doubles and eight RBI. It's the second time he's claimed the honor; he also won the award Sept. 26th, 2010.
- Brock Holt was a hit away from tying the rookie record of going 5-for-5; The Rock, John Wehner, was the last to do it against the Braves in 1991.
- With the win, the Pirates have assured themselves of their second-ever winning record at PNC Park with 41 victories. Pittsburgh finished 43-38 at home in 2006.
- Hmmm...Jerry Meals is behind the plate tomorrow. Ah, what the heck; he owes the Bucs a call, right?
- Chad Quall is back with the team. After a couple of side sessions, he's expected to be activated from the DL on Sunday.
- 12,785 was the announced crowd tonight.
- More old Buc news: Ross Ohlendorf was DFA'ed by the Padres. Ohlie, 30, made nine starts and four relief appearances for SD this year, posting a 7.77 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 24 walks across 48-2/3 innings.