A walk, a whiff and back-to-back singles made it 1-0 quickly, but Cole worked Chris Johnson for a 6-4-3 DP, so the damage wasn't too horrific. Josh opened with a double off Alex Wood and then got himself picked off second a pitch later, although it took a NY review to ring him up; we were a bit surprised that they overturned a bang-bang play. A pair of grounders ended the frame before the Pirates could get into any more mischief.
Evan Gattis led off the second with a double, but stayed put as Cole cut through the bottom of the Bravo order. With one gone, Gaby singled the opposite way but Wood came up with a couple more bouncers. The Bucs are in the hole at the plate a lot early on; they might note that both hits were on first pitch fastballs.
Cole tucked the Braves away with a couple of K in the third, though it took him 20 pitches to get three outs. Wood worked a clean frame, too. Gerrit was much more efficient in the fourth, sitting down the Bravos on seven pitches and is at a comfortable 48 tosses. Wood mowed down the Bucs with a pair of punchouts; his curve/change combo off his fastball is keeping Pittsburgh completely off balance so far.
It was 1-2-3 for the Braves in the fifth. With one gone for Pittsburgh, Travis singled on a hustle infield hit, but erased quickly when Stew grounded into a tailor-made DP. Jason Heyward turned on a fastball to open the sixth and doubled to right center. Andrelton Simmons bunted him up, earning Freddy Freeman an intentional walk. Cole threw a curve past Stewart, advancing the runners. Justin Upton walked to juice the sacks.
Chris Johnson blooped a 1-2 heater the opposite way to right; one run scored but a second was cut down at the plate by Travis. The play at home was reviewed, and no plate-blocking was detected, so the out stood. Gattis whiffed with Atlanta now up 2-0. The Pirates were retired in order; not much happening with the Louisville Sluggers so far tonight.
With an out in the seventh, BJ Upton walked after ump Paul Nauert missed a 1-2 strike; hopefully that won't bite the Bucs. He was bunted to second, but Cole got Heyward on a well hit ball to right, pulled in short of the track by Travis. Got to figure that at 97 pitches, Cole is done after a strong start; his heater sat at 94-96 and he touched 98, even in this frame, and his slider was a nice side pitch with a show-me curve. The Bucs went down in a row, Mercer and Marte both hit at 'em balls.
Tony Watson came on in the eighth, and the Braves were back in the field after eight pitches. Gaby walked to open the Buc half. Wood threw Travis three straight curves at the belt; he took the first two for strikes and drilled the next into right for a ground rule double.
That brought on Jordan Walden, who got Stew to bounce out to first for a productive out, scoring Gaby and moving Travis to third. The Kid hit for Jayson Nix. Gattis stopped one wayward slider to save a run, but couldn't stop a second off his knee pads, allowing Travis to score and also ball four to Walker. El Coffee grabbed a stick, but it was a wasted at-bat as he looked bad K'ing on three pitches. Josh bounced out to third to end the fun with the score now 2-2.
Walden has got one the weirdest deliveries in the game, sort of jumping at the batter, and it sure looks like he lifts his foot off the rubber before he delivers. But he's been getting away with it for five years, so...
Mark the Shark took the ball in the ninth, with The Kid staying in at second. Melancon's cutter was really moving, and he used it almost exclusively in pitching a routine frame. David Carpenter took the bump, and Jordy greeted him with a dink single to left. After Cutch popped out, Starling lifted a gapper and the Upton brothers weren't sure who should play it; Justin dropped the ball to put Bucs on second and third. Gaby did something quite unlike a Pirate batter; he hit a fly ball with a runner on third, and it was deep enough to plate Jordy as the Bucs snapped a long drought with a 3-2 win.
They were due for a break and finally got one; the win also coincides with a Buc pitcher not surrendering a big inning and the fielders not booting one in the clutch. So nice day at the office, and they need a bunch more. If they get hot, the schedule is their friend. If not...
The Bucs are off tomorrow as they travel to Milwaukee. If they can pick up their level of play, they have an opportunity to get into the mix again. The next stretch of games consists of series against the Brewers, Cards, Reds, Cards again and then the improved Cubs, which will carry them through the first week of September.
- Travis Snider extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Starling's ended at six.
- Gregory Polanco is in a 1-for-27 skid.
- There were 26,581 die-hards in the stands tonight.
- Clint Barmes went 1-for-4 at Indy today, with a homer.