He faded some in the eighth inning, surrendering a four-pitch walk and a single with an out. Other than the fifth, when a two-out knock put Brewers on the corners, he was in cruise control all night, throwing his sinker for strikes and showing a sweet curve to compliment it.
But at 102 pitches, Clint came out to direct Charlie to a well-deserved shadow and Tony Watson mopped up the inning. Mark the Shark worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 19th save (three grounders, two back to the mound), and the Bucs were back on the winning track, even if the run production is in a down cycle for now with just three runs tallied in the three game Milwaukee set.
|Bit of a mismatch as El Coffee & Nick Leyva exchange post-game skin (photo Gene Puskar/AP)|
They showed signs of breaking out with 11 hits against Kyle Lohse, but missed a pair of great opportunities to run away early from him. Gregory Polanco opened the game with a double and scored on Starling Marte’s single, followed by a steal. Then Cutch dropped one into shallow left and third-base coach Rick Sofield sent El Coffee home. On a close play, he was called out. Sofield's bad; never send a runner home in that situation unless you're 100% sure he's plating.
Cutch went to second, and was caught in a rundown after he broke on a Neil Walker tapper back to the hill; at least he stayed alive long enough for The Kid to get to second, where he was stranded. McCutchen, who reached second on the throw, broke for third on Neil Walker’s grounder back to Lohse. He got in a rundown long enough to let Walker reach second before Ramirez tagged him, but Walker was stranded in scoring position.
In the next inning, Pedro put the baserunning gaffes on the back burner when he launched a ball 438' over the RF wall and onto the upper Riverwalk to make it 2-0. The Bucs were back at it in the fourth when JHK was nailed trying to stretch a single into a double.
In the sixth, the Pirates juiced the sacks with no outs and Cutch & Kang singles with a Walker free pass in between. A Pedro popup and Fran Cervelli 6-4-3 DP killed that rally. In the eighth, the Bucs had two on with one away; this time Sean Rodriguez banged into a twin killing.
But Charlie (he gave up three hits, three walks and K'ed six) and the Dynamic Duo made the early runs stand up. The Bucs are off today and welcome the Phillies and Kevin Correia to town Friday night.
- Charlie set a couple of personal bests last night. He won five in a row for the first time in his career, and started a season off 4-0 for the first time, too.
- Mark Melancon set a career high, too, when he notched his 17th straight save.
- Jung-Ho Kang found his stroke again, banging out three hits, and so did Jordy Mercer, who has slowly eclipsed the Mendoza line with a .225 BA.
- Pedro's moon ball was his 12th consecutive solo shot. It was also the second time he's cleared the stands this season, almost sinking a boat earlier in the year.
- There was a pre-game moment of silence for Douglas Danforth, who died on Tuesday at age 92. Danforth, who ran Westinghouse, was part of the public-private ownership group that kept the team in Pittsburgh and served as the team's COB from 1987-92.