In the second, Ike dribbled a single up the left side and trotted home after Travis Snider stayed back on an inside slider and pounded it over the RF fence to make it 3-0. Like last inning, the Bucs got a guy aboard with two outs when Josh walked, but he was left aboard. Michael Morse cut into lead in a hurry when he drilled a slider into the stands; it withstood a review, bouncing back into the field off a fan. Frankie regained his focus quickly and whiffed the next three Giants. Both pitchers worked a clean third frame.
Pittsburgh threatened to add in the fourth when Jordy tripled with two down. Francisco gave it a shot, hitting a ball on the nose, but the liner was snared by second baseman Dan Uggla to strand Mercer. Buster Posey opened with a soft shot to right for a single. Frankie came back with a K and two bouncers; his slider is nasty tonight, and he has rung up six whiffs already.
Hudson spun a 1-2-3 fifth and so did Liriano, with another two K. The Kid opened the sixth with a single, and a roller moved him up a base. Hudson finished strong, though, whiffing Ike and Travis. With two gone, Posey was rewarded for a long at-bat with a single up the middle, and he remained at first.Hudson had an easy seventh; he's shown all his pitches, and the splitter is giving the Buc hitters fits. With one gone, Andrew Susak drew a walk, but another K and a bouncer ended the frame. Both guys are well over 100 pitches, so it's time for the pens to finish up.
Jean Machi came in to pitch the eighth for the G-Men. Cutch cranked a one-out double to left center, and stole third with two gone. Russ couldn't bring him home, grounding out for the fourth time on the night. Tony Watson got the call for the Pirates and Michael Martinez moved into left for Travis. Joaquin Arias started the G-Men up with a single to center. No sweat; a fly to left and a 4-6-3 DP cleaned everything up nicely.
Lefty Jeremy Affelt took the ball in the ninth. The Bucs batted Brent Morel and Gaby for Ike and Tony with no luck. Jordy drew a walk, but Martinez bounced out. Mark the Shark is due to face the heart of the Giant order. Posey greeted him with his third hit - the Giants only have five - a grounder up the middle on an 0-2 cutter. Pablo Sandoval went the other way with a cutter, but El Coffee had it measured for the first out. Morse went down swinging at a curve in the dirt. Travis Ishikawi grabbed a bat as Posey went to second without a throw on defensive indifference. He stayed there as Ishikawi went down on another curve in the dirt. For Liriano it was just win #3; for Melancon, it was save #20.
Well, Pirate pitching has been all that in this series so far against the offensively challenged Giants; Vanimal and Frankie served up gems. The Bucs are just a game back in the NL Central now and looking for a get-away day sweep tomorrow (OK, today). Trade talk is great, but piling up some wins is better. And if Liriano is back, those wins will be a lot easier to come by.
Charlie Morton closes the series against Tim Lincecum tomorrow afternoon.
- John Peralto of the Beaver County Times believes the Pirates and Red Sox could be working on a "blockbuster" deal involving several players. Jon Lester, btw, was scratched from his Wednesday start, so it will all go down soon to whichever club (and there still are a handful) wins the bidding war.
- Tonight was Francisco Liriano's tenth career 10+ strikeout game. He had 11 against the Giants.
- Cutch's double broke an 0-for-14 hitless streak, which was his longest of the year. McCutchen also joined Barry Bonds as the only players in Pirate history with four seasons of 30+ 2B, 5+ 3B, 15+ HR, & 15+ SB.
- The Bucs are 17-for-17 when scoring in the first frame, tying a team record that goes back to 1928.
- Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review said Starling Marte is definitely not coming off the DL tomorrow, and may play some rehab games before returning. Jose Tabata was removed from the Indy lineup tonight, so the two items may be related. There's also the possibility that he may be involved in a trade, so we'll see.