Game #43: McLouth’s Homer Wins It

Friendly Confines | 1:05 | Duke vs. Carlos Zambrano |

I doubt if the Pirates fans out numbered the Cubs fans in Chicago today. But, I’m sure somewhere in Wrigleyville, someone was heard to shout “Nate the Great!”
Nate McLouth lifted a tie breaking two run homer in the 9th inning off Carlos Marmol as the Bucs overcame a five hit, two homer performance from Alfonso Soriano, who is hotter than all get out.
Soriano hit a homer in the 4th off of Zach Duke to make the score 4-2. The Pirates turned three singles, two walks and a sac fly into three runs in the fifth inning. That was good enough to take the lead and chase Carlos Zambrano. But Soriano struck again, blasting a solo homer off of Tyler Yates in the 7th.
Soriano was the first batter that Yates faced after relieving Duke. The Bucs starter allowed four runs in 6-1/3 and failed in his bid to win his third straight start, though he left with the lead.
That set the stage for McLouth, who homered following a single by Freddy Sanchez. In the bottom of the ninth, Matt Capps gave up a two out RBI single to Ryan Theriot to put the score at 7-6. But he got Derrek Lee to fly out to end it.
Damaso Marte picked up the win with a scoreless 8th inning. In his last eleven appearances, he has three wins and has been scored upon just one time.
Jason Bay flew out twice and walked against Zambrano.

Pre-Game Thoughts
Zach Duke has won back-to-back starts for the first time since 5/29/06 – 6/3/06. The last time he won three straight outings occurred in his second, third and fourth career starts. Remember when he was the hottest thing in Pittsburgh? One scary thought is that he is actually striking out fewer hitters per 9 innings this year than he was in 2007.
This will be his third tilt against the North Siders in 2008. He received a no decision on April 9th and was saddled with the loss on April 20th.
He is 4-3 with a 2.56 ERA all-time against the Cubs. He has more starts (10) and wins (4) against Chicago than against any team. His only career shutout came at Wrigley in 2006. Despite a solid ERA against the Cubs, the team as a whole is hitting .326 against him. Alfonso Soriano leads the way at 7-15 with a homer.
Carlos Zambrano is off to a magnificent start. His ERA sits at 2.03 and his record is 6-1. In his 9 starts, he has allowed more than two runs just twice and more than three runs just once. He has yet to face the Pirates this season. He is 9-6 with a 3.83 ERA vs. the Smoky City Nine. With the exception of two players, the Pirates have struggled against Z. The list:
Jason Bay 12-34 with four doubles, five homers and 16 RBI
Xavier Nady 8-20 with five doubles
Jose Bautista 1-13
Adam LaRoche 3-19
Ronny Paulino 1-14
Freddy Sanchez 4-26
Collectively, the bunch is hitting .212. Bay’s HR and RBI marks against Zambrano are his best vs. any individual pitcher.
Brad Lincoln returns!
There’s a great note in the Post-Gazette about the Pirates come from behind win over St. Louis. It is great because it talks about the last time such a win occurred and it involved one of my all-time favorite: Johnny Ray.

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