After Vanimal flew out to the center field track to open the second, Josh singled. A pop and grounder finished the frame. With two away, Cody Asche doubled for the Phils and Wil Nieves singled him home as Worley is catching a lot of plate lately - and with ump Tim Welke's strike zone, without reason. Freddy Galvis, who killed the Bucs last night, reverted to form and K'ed chasing a ball four slider.
With two gone in the third, Travis singled up the middle, but Gaby became the second whiff of the frame to end it. Grady Sizemore was the third out for the Phils, but the ball in the dirt that he struck out on got past Russ, and Sizemore ended up on first. Utley flew out, and all's well that ends well.
Williams tossed a 1-2-3 frame with two more punch outs in the fourth. He now has six; his season high before today was five. Lead off man Ryan Howard drew a walk. After a K, Asche found grass on a pop up into short let that Jordy couldn't get to. A fly and another walk loaded the bases for Williams, who singled in a pair before Ben Revere was retired. Like last night, the Phil attack is all from the bottom of the order, and Vance is struggling at 84 pitches.
Starling became the seventh K in the fifth, but Cutch caught a heater down the middle and lined it into left center; the ball took a big carom off a high wall past Revere and Cutch was around the bases with a standing inside-the-park homer to tie the game. An out later, Russ banged a traditional long ball 421' over the wall to put Pittsburgh up a point. Travis doubled into the LF corner, but Gaby went down looking. Eight K's for Williams, but a 4-3 lead for the Buccos. Vanimal put together an eight pitch, routine frame with three grounders to The Kid.
Luis Garcia took the bump in the sixth. Jordy singled; his grounder up the middle was cut off, but he beat the rap. Andrew Lambo hit for Vance and lined a two strike slider to right, chasing Jordy to third. Josh looked silly swinging at dirt-kissing sliders, but Garcia then tried to sneak a 99 MPH heater past him and it was lined to right for a double, scoring Mercer. Starling banged a slider into left, plating another run. A short passed ball moved Marte to second, and with the base open, Cutch drew a work around walk.
Lefty Cesar Jimenez took the ball to face The Kid and got him to pop out on a change. Russ did worse; he hit a change to third for an around-the-horn DP. We know the Bucs have six runs on the board, but they've left a lot of ducks quacking on the pond. And give Ryne Sandberg credit; he got the flamethrower out and brought in a soft tosser to put out the fire; Jimenez never even threw the #1. LHP Bobby LaFromboise got the call, and K'ed a pair on sliders in the dirt during a 1-2-3 frame.
Jimenez got a pair of easy outs to open the seventh before Jordy singled. Pinch hitter Tony Sanchez K'ed. Big John Holdzkom jogged in, along with El Coffee in right. He worked a clean inning with a K. It was Miguel Gonzalez's turn in the eighth. Josh whiffed, then Starling cracked a double to center but was left there. Clint sent Tony Watson in; three LH were due up, and he got two of them swinging.
Sean O'Sullivan worked the ninth cleanly, although in a good sign Gregory Polanco hit a bullet to center that Revere ran down. Mark the Shark circled for the kill and got it 10 pitches later for his 28th save; Vanimal went to 7-4.
Worley struggled, but like Eddie yesterday kept the game in check. The difference was the bullpen, which tossed four perfect frames. The Bucs have to keep on grinding out wins; 17 games to go.
Francisco Liriano and AJ Burnett close out the series tomorrow night.
- Tonight marked the first inside the park homer of Cutch's career and first for a Pirate since 9/29/13 at Cincy by Jordy Mercer.
- Starling Marte has a ten game hitting streak and five consecutive multi-hit games.
- Six Pirates - Josh, Starling, Cutch, Russ, Travis & Jordy - had a pair of hits tonight.
- The Braves won and the Cards lost; Milwaukee was still playing a tight one with Miami and San Fran is just starting. Interesting 17 games left for the Buccos, especially with three games at home against Milwaukee followed by a four game set at Atlanta from the 19th-25th. The Bucs are three games behind in the loss column to the Cards; that sweep was brutal.
- Pedro Alvarez has been diagnosed with a stress reaction in the fourth metatarsal in his left foot. Recovery time is expected to be 4-6 weeks, so for all intents and purposes, he's done for the regular season. According to the local beat gang, Pedro disagrees with the docs and thinks he's ready to go, so that may become a sidebar tomorrow.