Saturday, May 31, 2014

Frankie Does Hollywood; Bucs Win 2-1

Josh Beckett kept his no-hit mojo intact in the first with a 1-2-3 frame. Frank Liriano, who had big-time control problems last outing, walked Dee Gordon to start off LA, and he stole second. He fell behind Chone Figgins 3-1, and then caught a couple of breaks: Figgins bunted ball four, and then ran into the ball. The umps said Figgins made contact in fair territory and was out, although Don Mattingly disagreed rather noisily to no avail. That seemed to calm Frankie down, as he whiffed Yusiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez to end the first quietly.

Russ Martin broke up the hitless streak with a one out single in the second; an out later, he was caught stealing after hesitating on his jump. Liriano tossed a clean inning.

The Bucs got a run in the third, but it could have been a big frame that got away from them for want of a bunt. Starling Marte was plunked in the hip, then Clint Barmes walked. Liriano came up to bunt, missed the ball, and Marte, who had taken a hop toward third, was picked cleanly off second by catcher Drew Butera. The Pirates followed with back-to-back knocks by Josh Harrison and The Kid to score one. Cutch took an inside pitch for ball four, but was rung up on an inadvertent foul tip; it was hard to tell if there was any contacton replay. Andrew, who never argues, argued and spent some time yapping at ump Paul Nauert behind the human wall Hurdle and Rick Sofield set up, but the K stood in a frustrating frame. Butera led off with a single, but no further damage was done.

Ike Davis had the only Pirate hit in the fourth, but it was a beaut, as he sent a fastball 453' over the fence in center to make it 2-0. Puig opened with a dribbler up the left side; Francisco gunned it past Davis for a hit and an error. But instead of rattling Frankie, it seemed to focus him. He followed with a pair of whiffs - his fifth and sixth - and a tapper in front of the plate.

With two down in the fifth, Josh singled, and a couple of pitches later became the third Pirate thrown out on the base paths as was caught easily trying to steal second. For the third time in five innings, LA had their leadoff guy on second when Andre Ethier doubled to right center. Liriano got the next two outs, then Gordon legged out an infield single on a roller that Walker had to tuck in his pocket. After a long at-bat, Figgins drew a walk to bring up Puig. Frankie fell behind 2-0, got him to swing through a pair of changes and then popped him out to escape unscathed.

Paul Maholm came on in the sixth; Beckett was on a short leash after his 128 pitch performance last time out. With two down, Ike cued a soft chopper to the left side for an infield single against the shift and Martin walked. Pedro ran the count to 3-2 before flying out short of the track in center. The Dodgers again got the first hitter to second when Hanley Ramirez doubled. he went to third on a grounder, and then Frankie K'ed Scott Van Slyke with 3-2 change. But the big guy was laboring and has been since the fifth, so Clint waved in Justin Wilson. He fanned Ethier on three pitches.

Chris Perez worked a quiet seventh, and Tony Watson took the hill for Pittsburgh. He celebrated his 29th birthday with a 1-2-3 frame, with two whiffs and a soft roller to second. Brian Wilson took over in the eighth. An error put JT on, but Gordon made a diving stop of Walker's bid to go up the middle and started a DP with a glove flip of the ball to second. Cutch walked before Ike bounced out.

Mark the Shark again got to face LA's 2-3-4 hitters. He hung a 1-2 curve to Figgins, who dumped it into left for an opening knock. A dribbler moved him to second and Ramirez brought him home by taking a cutter the other way for a single. Annother weak grounder moved him up 90', but Melancon got pinch hitter Adrain Gonzalez on a routine grounder to short. But at 2-1, there's not much net to work with.

JP Howell kept it a one run game, giving up just a two-out walk to Marte. Jason Grilli climbed the hill and had a rocking chair frame; a broken bat grounder, a short fly to right and a K. Grilli collected his seventh save and more importantly, Frankie snared that elusive first win.

LA is the perfect team for Liriano; his change was terrific and he had a decent slider, and the free-swinging Dodgers struck out eight times chasing his offerings. The Bucs made it hard on themselves with their base running peccadilloes, but fielded cleanly again and eked out enough offense for the win. After the NY series, Pittsburgh needed a couple of good games to get back on the bike.

Brandon Cumpton and Hyun-jin Ryu hook up tomorrow night for the national Fox Sports Saturday Night Baseball game.
  • Tonight marks the first time the Pirates have won back-to-back games in LA in the same year since 2006.
  • Neil Walker extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
  • Tony Watson is carrying a 15-2/3 innings scoreless streak.
  • Wandy Rodriguez went unclaimed while DFA and was unconditionally released today.
  • Ryan Palencer of Pirates Prospects reports that Indy OF Chris Dickerson, originally reported to have a hamstring issue, came out today in a walking boot and was placed on the DL, where he joins OF/1B Andrew Lambo, who had surgery on his thumb earlier this week.

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