Both sides went down in order in the second. Gomez ran into a two out bump in the third, giving up a single and stolen base to Michael Saunders and walking Bay again, but got a liner to Snider off the bat of Kyle Seager to end the inning. Marte started off the Pirate half by getting plunked (for the seventh time this year), and an out later was on second following a Cutch knock. But they stayed there, thanks to 1B Justin Smoak's grab of a two-out Mike McKenry rope to finish the frame.
With an out in the fourth, Smoak rolled a single to right; three pitches later, the inning was over as Dustin Ackley bounced into a 4-6-3. Gomez has done a good job of keeping the ball down, and at 57 pitches has been efficient so far. The Pirates went down 1-2-3 and the 6-7-8 guys did a lot of fishing, with Pedro and Mercer whiffing.
Jeanmar put away the bottom of the M order in the fifth. That was it for Gomez, who's on a short pitch count leash, we'd guess, coming in cold. He went five scoreless, giving up two hits, two walks and K'ing five after 66 tosses; he threw 79 in his last start. The Bucs squared up on a couple of balls off Harang, but Marte's liner was hauled in while Snider's drive carried to the track. Justin Wilson took over for the Pirates.
With two outs, Seager banged a fastball up the middle. Wilson fell behind Michael Morse 3-0, but came back to punch him out swinging at a hook to polish off the sixth. Cutch opened with a grounder through the left side for his third knock. He stole second as Jones looked at a borderline called third strike. The Fort bounced out to move him up one more station and he died there as Pedro struck out for the third time this evening.
Clint Hurdle brought in Tony Watson to work the seventh. After whiffing Smoak, he was up 0-2 on Ackley and left him a slider that caught the plate and was sent up the middle. Kelly Shoppach rolled out weakly, advancing the runner.
Jesus Montero grabbed a bat, and Jose Contreras was waved in to get the righty-righty match. That was flipped as Eric Wedge sent lefty Raul Ibanez to hit for Montero: it's not often you see a 40 year old bat against a 41 year old outside of beer leagues. Wedge won the managerial spinning wheel contest as Ibanez lined a two base gapper to right center off a changeup down the middle to make it 2-1. Jose got Endy Chavez, and the Bucs were up 2-1 with the Back Ends Boys on tap. Charlie Furbush climbed the hill for Seattle and tucked the Bucs away, whiffing Barmes and pinch hitter Brandon Inge.
Mark Melancon took the bump for Pittsburgh, and struck out two of the three Mariners he faced. It was Carter Capps turn on the hill for Seattle. After an out, Snider drew a four pitch walk. He was erased quickly, when Capps spun and picked him off as he broke for second. Of course Cutch collected his fourth hit afterward. Jones took the sting away. He fell behind 0-2, battled to an even count, and then clocked an inside half 94 MPH heater over the Clemente Wall to make it 4-1.
Jason Grilli must be loving it; this is the 11th time in 13 save opps that he's come in with a two or three run cushion; the last one run edge he had to protect was April 12th. He picked up two more K in a clean frame, icing Jeanmar Gomez's second win.
Well, a lot of ERAs improved tonight. And don't expect to much scoring tomorrow; it's a marquee matchup between AJ Burnett and Felix "The King" Hernandez.
- This Is Getting Old reports that Duke Welker is on his way to Pittsburgh as the Bucs will need another bullpen arm after Gomez's start today. Welker, 27, is 3-0 and hasn't been scored on in 16 innings at Indy while amassing 20 K. (Thx to Tim Williams at Pirates Prospects)
- Neil Walker is expected to start a rehab assignment at Altoona Thursday, and hopes to be ready around May 12-13th.
- Cutch and Starling are 17-for-20 in stolen bases; the rest of the team is 3-for-6.
- Pirate opponents are 12-of-13 (92%) base stealing against The Fort and 15-of-23 (65%) against Russell Martin for a team total of 27-of-36 (75%). The league average for successful swipes is 73%.
- The Pirates drew 12,973 tonight, going against damp weather and the Penguins on the tube.
- Jameson Taillon was hit on the leg by a liner in the fourth at Altoona, and was taken out. He walked off, so that at least was a good sign.