Pittsburgh took the early lead in the second when Garrett Jones popped one over the left center wall. Baltimore wasted little time getting over that. Jarrod Saltalamacchia started the O half with a double and scored when David Ross' single skipped past Travis Snider. Ross ended up on third and trotted home after Jose Iglesias rolled a ball up the middle.
Locke helped his own cause by dropping a fly the opposite way for a ground rule double to open the third, but he was stranded by the top of the order, the second leadoff double in three frames to die on base. The Red Sox added on when Will Middlebrooks tripled and Salty singled him home to make it 3-1.
The Bucs got their fourth straight leadoff hitter aboard when Pedro singled to kick off the frame, but he never got to second. Russell Martin tried to get chase El Toro home, but his shot to right center was run down at the track by Ellsbury 400' away.
Locke tossed a 1-2-3 frame, his last. He gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk, and was generally up in the zone and behind in the count this afternoon. The lefty didn't have his best stuff, nor did the defense behind him. It wasn't terrible, but surely wasn't the outing he hoped for in the free-for-all for a rotation spot.
The game stayed that way until the eighth. Mark Melancon whiffed a pair in the fifth, Tony Watson was back to his old self by throwing a clean inning with a K, and Vin Mazzaro stuck out five of six Beaneaters in his two perfect innings to further complicate the Buc bullpen picture. Buchholz went 5-1/3, giving up the run on four hits with a walk and five K. Junichi Tazawa got Boston into the eighth when he ran into problems after retiring five straight Pirates.
After getting JT swinging on a 3-2 pitch, he walked Jordy Mercer (who leads the club with 10 walks so far this spring) and Marte. Anthony Carter took the ball and watched Mercer reach third when Ross threw behind Marte at first and hit him. Alex Presley bounced one to short and the throw by Xander Bogaerts got away. It was ruled a single and error, scoring Mercer and putting runners at second and third.
Josh Harrison's grounder to the right side tied the game, and Pedros blast to left center put the Bucs ahead. Nathan Baker came out for the save, and provided the club with his version of the Hanrattack, thanks mainly to 1B Matt Curry.
Lyle Overbay reached on Curry's boot and Jonny Gomes was hit by a pitch. But Curry made up for his error in his own awkward way. He dropped a pop bunt in front of the mound (and not intentionally), but recovered and tossed to third for the force; the relay to second by Eric Avila turned the misadventure into a double play. No, the umps didn't blow it - bunts can't be ruled infield flies. Saved by the baseball gods, Baker whiffed Bogaerts, and the Pirates came away winners; they've taken 8-of-12.
Jeff Karstens goes against the O's and Brian Matusz tomorrow afternoon.
- Jeff Banister coached the Bucs today; Clint Hurdle stayed in Bradenton to catch some of the minor league action and watch Jason Grilli & Charlie Morton. Grilli worked a frame in a minor league game while Morton tossed a bullpen session.
- Don't let the current cold snap bum out your Pirate jones. The Weather Underground has the forecast for the Bucs and says it'll be in the fifties for the Cub series, with Opening Day on April 1st fast approaching.
- If you're wondering about Mike Malle's commemoration of Buccos past, The Legends of Pittsburgh mural that greeted Downtown visitors entering the City at Second and Ross, here's the 411 from Pittsburgh's Outdoor Murals and Art.
- Someone does love Ronny Cedeno; the Astros signed him, pending his physical. Not so for old Bucco 2B Delwyn Young; the Nats cut him today.