Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bucs Grind Out 5-3 Win

OK, let's see if Charlie Morton can continue to own the Reds, his favorite NL Central punching bag.

Hmmm...looks like Cincy wants to reverse roles here. Brandon Phillips led off with a line knock into center, and a soft roller moved him over a base. Joey Votto banged one through the right side,and Phillips beat the throw by a hair, sticking his hand on the dish just before the tag. Within the span of three batters, it was 1-0 Reds. Jose Tabata drew an opening walk of Dontrelle Willis, but the Bucs could advance him no further than second.

The leadoff guy got on again when Drew Stubbs beat out a hit to second, but Neil Walker got even by starting a 4-6-3 twin killing against the next hitter, Ramon Hernandez. Another bouncer to The Pittsburgh Kid finished the frame. Walker was hot, starting off the Bucco half with a knock, but an out later was erased when Ronny Cedeno grounded back to the box to begin a 1-6-3 DP. Turnabout is fair play, hey?

After Willis whiffed, Phillips banged his second single off Morton. Fred Lewis forced him out, and then was nailed trying to steal second by Mike McKenry. With Votto up, we'd have to question the timing, but thank you, Dusty. JT drew a two-out walk for the Buccos, and it was 1-0 after three.

CM was a little wild in the fourth, starting off with a walk to Votto - he picked him off - and then plunking Jay Bruce. But he settled down and cruised through the inning.

McCutch and Ryan Ludwick got the ball rolling with back-to-back singles off Willis. Then Clint Hurdle called on the team's go-to RBI guy to bunt; Walker popped up to the pitcher. Brandon Wood K'ed on a foul tip, leaving it up to RC. Cedeno came through, smacking the ball through the left side to chase home McCutch, who beat a throw home as the runners moved up a base. McKenry was intentionally walked, and Morton rolled out to second, leaving the game knotted at one.

Morton came back strong, pitching his first clean frame. JT opened the fifth with a walk, then Garrett Jones was plopped by a pitch. After a McCutch K, Ludwick and Walker banged back-to-back RBI knocks, and the Bucs were up 3-1 after five.

But the Reds are persistent, as they proved last night. Phillips collected his third hit when Walker made a great stop of his ball but was left without a play. He went to third on a hit-and-single by Fred Lewis, and Votto followed with an RBI knock.

Just as Morton was nearing the danger zone, Bruce banged a curve to second, and the 4-6-3 DP relieved the pressure. A 1-3 ended the frame with minimal damage and a 3-2 Bucco lead. But that would be it for Morton, who went six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits with a walk and 2 K's while tossing 89 pitches.

Matt Diaz, who pinch hit for CM, singled with an out. With two away, he was caught leaning by Willis and picked off as he broke to second. That cued the music for Chris Resop's entrance.

Stubbs greeted him with a single to left, and quickly stole second. At the end of a nine pitch at-bat, Hernandez doubled the opposite way, and the game was tied again. Dave Sappelt, one of last night's heroes, came in to pinch run.

That brought on Tony Watson, who got Paul Janish to pop up a bunt attempt - quite the lost art, hey? - and a bouncer to short that froze Sappelt at second. Phillips was intentionally walked. Edgar Renteria came on to pinch hit for Lewis. He flew out, but the Bucs failed to hold the lead for Morton, foiled going after his tenth win.

And to add a little chaos to the precedings, a second wave of fans began arriving at the park. Guess they didn't know the game had been moved up three hours. Oooops. Anyway, onward. Aroldis Chapman took over for the Reds.

He K'ed Jones, but McCutch dropped a single into left, followed by a Ludwick walk. Walker came through again, singling home McCutch to give the Bucs a 4-3 edge. Ludwick went to third on the knock, and Wood brought him in when he hit a heater late and blooped it into right for a double. With Walker on third, Cedeno looked at strike three before McKenry walked to juice the sacks, getting a couple of generous calls from plate ump Jerry Layne. Steve Pearce grabbed a stick.

Sam LeCure was the response to that, and the Bucs answered with Xavier Paul batting for the pinch hitter. Didn't help; the X-Man was called out on strikes. The Bucs had a 5-3 lead with six outs to go.

Jose Veras climbed the hill for Pittsburgh. He lost Votto on a 3-2 curve, and Bruce roped a single to center. Miguel Cairo hit the first pitch to right, and there was one away. Stubbs went down looking at a hook and Sappelt swinging at a heater as JV stranded a pair and maintained the 5-3 lead.

LeCure put the Bucs down in order, picking up a pair of K's. And Hanny was on the hill; seems like forever since he's had a save opp. Janish flew out to the track in center, Ryan Hanigan bounced out to third, and Phillips grounded out to second. Hanrahan got his 31st save and Tony Watson picked up his first MLB win.

Mike Leake and James McDonald will hook up in the rubber match.
  • The Bucs played before a sellout crowd of 37,826 at PNC Park today. They're about 20,000 warm fannies away from bettering last year's attendance of 1,613,399.
  • In the post game interview, Clint Hurdle said Bad Brad Lincoln will start one of the doubleheader games on Monday against the Brew Crew.
  • Gerritt Cole, like Josh Bell, has all the right things to say at his press conference today.  He'll head to the Pirates Instructional League Monday, and may end up playing fall ball in Arizona.

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