Sunday, October 6, 2013

Last Rally Belongs To Bucs In 5-3 Win

Well, it didn't exactly turn out to be be the game everyone expected, but it was a perfect playoff theater; dramatic, hotly contested and won at the end by the Buccos, 5-3.

Francisco Liriano started out with a strikeout and followed with a pair of grounders to work a perfect first. Joe Kelly started out strong with a pair of quick outs, but worked around Cutch and walked him. Justin Morneau followed with a ball that ricocheted off Kell's foot to short; Pete Kozma threw the ball away and Bucs were on second and third. But not for long. as Marlon Byrd banged a ball to left to make it 2-0.

Frankie tossed another 1-2-3 frame in the second. Kelly worked a quiet inning, somehow managing to lose Liriano with two outs but retiring Starling Marte on a soft grounder to end the Bucco at bat.

Liriano worked himself into a pickle in the third. With Kozma on second after a double (a routine ball to left that Starling Marte lost in the sun) and two outs, a walk and hit batter loaded the bases. Matt Holliday lined one the other way, but The Byrd had a bead on it on gloved it a step short of the Clemente Wall. The Pirates went down without a peep.

The Cards lined into a couple of hard outs, but went down in order in the fourth, while the Bucs went down meekly, with a pair of whiffs. St. Louis drew blood in the fifth.

A single by Jon Jay and a walk to #8 hitter Kozma opened the inning. That followed a pair of K and a pair of mistakes that would cost the Bucs. As Matt Carpenter went down looking on a 3-2 pitch, the Redbirds were on the move. Martin tossed out the runner at third, but it was a bang-bang play and the ump gave Jay the call (and it took super-slo mo to tell). The second mistake was on Pedro; who lifted his swipe tag as Jay came off the base, missing a second chance to get him.

October superman Carlos Beltran took advantage and rolled a two-out single into center to tie the game, just after Clint Barmes had taken a couple of steps toward the hole and left the middle open. In the Buc half, Barmes singled and was bunted to second, but languished there, and it was 2-2 after five innings.

The Cards went down in order in the sixth. Pittsburgh had an answer in their half. Cutch walked, and an out later, Byrd doubled him to third. Pedro was walked intentionally, and ground ball bossman Seth Maness got the call. Russ Martin would have none of it, banging a fly deep enough to center to score Cutch on the trot and regain a lead for the Pirates at 3-2.

Tony Watson took the hill in the seventh, and except for a single by the pesky Kozma, worked a routine frame. John Axford did a three up, three down number on the Bucs.

Mark the Shark took the mound for the eighth. He was keeping everything up, and paid almost immediately when Beltran went yard to right center. An out later, Yadier Molina singled softly into center, but that was cleaned up by a comebacker 1-6-3 DP from David Freese.

The homer took the air out of the crowd briefly, but not out of the Pirates. Carlos Martinez took the ball, and Cutch greeted him with a double. That was quickly followed by Cutch getting thrown out at third on a grounder to short by Morneau. It was an inexplicable base running blunder, but his teammates picked him up, and big-time. Josh Harrison came on to run for Morneau, and jogged to second after a Byrd walk. LHP Kevin Siegrist got the call to face Pedro, who yanked a ball into right to score Josh as the house erupted. It got even louder after Martin ripped a single to left to make it 5-3 after fouling a suicide squeeze attempt. The fans didn't even seem to mind that Gaby bounced into an around-the-horn DP to end the frame.

Jason Grilli came in looking for the save. Matt Adams started the frame with a flare into left, but that was it; a soft liner to Mercer, a can of corn fly to Cutch and a roller to Gaby ended the Cards night, and the Bucs took a two-to-one lead in the series. Jason earned the save and Mark Melancon got a blown hold - and the win.

Lefties hitting lefties. Sac flies with runners on third. Two out, two run singles. Everybody is carrying his weight. There was plenty of good stuff going on at PNC Park by the Bucs, enough to take a big win and keep home advantage. Now it's up to Charlie Morton and rookie hot shot Michael Wacha to see if the series goes five games or ends in Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon.

  • Another PNC Park record was set with a crowd of 40,489 today, breaking a record set...Tuesday.
  • In four playoff games, Cutch is 7-for-12 with two doubles, four runs, five walks and one whiff.
  • Justin Morneau has a seven game post-season hitting streak.
  • Former owner Kevin McClatchy was given a warm welcome before throwing out the first pitch; Pittsburgh fans do appreciate that all's well that ends well.
  • Clint Hurdle won't name the Game #5 starter for the media. Our question is why would he until there's a fifth game to worry about?
  • Danny Knobler of CBS Sports Baseball Insider thinks there's something special brewing in Pittsburgh.

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