Snakes Pound Bucs Bullpen

The Diamondbacks scored seven times in their final two times up to pull away 11-4. With the game knotted at four, Evan Meek couldn’t hold back Arizona. Miguel Montero broke the tie with an RBI double and Chad Tracy cracked a pinch hit three run homer later in the inning – capping a five run 7th – off of John Grabow. Donnie Veal gave up a two run homer to Justin Upton in the 8th for the final scores of the game.

The Pirates did a lot against Dan Haren. They got to him for four runs in the fifth and he wouldn’t be out for the sixth. Garrett Jones had a two run double and Ryan Doumit followed with a two run homer.

That outburst put the Pirates up 4-1, but starter Charlie Morton couldn’t hold the lead. A run scoring triple from Stephen Drew was followed by a game tying homer from Gerardo Parra. Morton was pulled for Jeff Karstens after two more batters. Karstens retired four hitters without a run and he gave way to Meek to start the seventh.

The Pirates had no more hits once Haren was out of the game. Juan Gutierrez picked up the win in relief.

The Good

Getting to Dan Haren.

Jones had three hits and two RBI. Swing for the fences, Garrett!

Steve Pearce had two hits and a double in his first action since the Adam LaRoche trade.

The Bad

The bullpen. Ugh.

The Rest

Karstens has thrown 10 stright hitless innings over four appearances.

The homer was Tracy’s fourth career as a pinch hitter and second of the month.

This was Haren’s worst outing of the year. He had previously gone at least six in every start. He allowed four earned runs or more just once and that was in a seven inning outing in which he allowed five.

Jones has nine homers, but just 13 RBI. Record for fewest RBI in a season with at least 10 HR is former Pirate Dave Ross’ 2003 season (with LA) in which he had 10 HR and just 18 knocked in.

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Looper Closes Down Bucs

Early to bed and early to rise means I don’t have time to post the day of the game. My apologies. Not much was missed. Braden Looper stopped the Pirates on four hits and three walks in seven shutout innings. Trevor Hoffman got the save in the 9th.

Virgil Vasquez deserved better. He went 6-2/3 and allowed two runs on nine hits. Prince Fielder had a pair of RBI singles. Vasquez walked none and struck out four and probably earned himself another start or two.

The Good

No complaints about Vasquez tonight.

Evan Meek tossed two scoreless innings.

The Bad

Wow. The offense. Ugh.

The Rest

Looper is 4-2 against the Pirates as a starter. In seven career starts he has allowed more than three runs just once.

 

Jones Does it Again (Twice)

Garrett Jones stroked two solo homers – one in the first and one in the 14th to end it. His blast in the 14th bounced into the river. Those were the only runs the Pirates scored, but it was good enough.

Paul Maholm and Tim Lincecum locked horns. Lincecum gave up the first homer, but otherwise was stingy, whiffing 10 and allowing just four other hits and no walks in seven innings. Maholm went 8 and gave up four hits and no walks while striking out seven.

Maholm’s lone run was unearned. It in the 7th with runners on the corners. Maholm’s pitched bounced away from Ryan Doumit, who quickly gathered it. With Pablo Sandoval trying to take second and two outs, Doumit fired to Freddy Sanchez in time. But the ball bounced off Sanchez’ glove. With the speedy Randy Winn moving early on the throw, he scored the tying run easily. That all set up Jones’ heroics.

His second homer came off of Bobby Howry and made a winner of Evan Meek who had pitched a scoreless inning.

The Good

A win

Jones – swing from your heels!

The Bad

The offense. Guh.

Brandon Moss was easily gunned down at home in the 7th on a single from Jack Wilson

Joel Hanrahan was allowed to pitch when the game was close and put two on with one gone in the 13th. He was pulled for Jesse Chavez who put out the fire.

The Rest

The win was Meek’s first career victory. He has given up just one run in his last nine innings over nine appearances. He joins Ross Ohlendorf, Virgil Vasquez, Steven Jackson and Charlie Morton in picking up their first career win as a Buc in 2009.

This was the first two homer game in Jones’ career. He has now homered in four straight games.

Lincecum’s only other career appearance came in his rookie year on 8-11-07. He was beaten by Tony Armas Jr. of all people.

This was the first time Maholm didn’t walk a batter all year. He had five such starts last year.

Hampton Beats Bucs (Again)

Mike Hampton has not lost to the Pirates this decade. That streak continued as Hampton allowed just one run, three hits and three walks in seven very effective innings.

Virgil Vasquez certainly was fine. He gave up a two run triple to Geoff Blum in the first and a two run double to Miguel Tejada in the fifth. He retired the side in order in three of his six innings.

The Pirates outburst came in the 7th. Garrett Jones led off with a double and Robinzon Diaz singled with two out to bring him in, getting thrown out at second in the process to end the inning.

The Good

Diaz had two of the three hits.

Evan Meek whiffed the side in the 8th. Jose Valverde returned the favor in the 9th.

The Bad

Daggone. The offense.

Freddy Sanchez was out again.

The Rest

Hampton’s last loss to Pittsburgh was 5/30/99. Mike Benjamin (of all people) did the heavy lifting in that one with a bases clearing double in the second in support of Kris Benson. Since then Hampton has won all 10 of his starts against the Pirates, including four this year. In that span he allowed one run or fewer in eight of the 10 games.

No complaints about Diaz and Jason Jaramillo in the absence of Ryan Doumit. Thus far for 2009, Pirate catchers are third in the NL in RBI with 45 (tied with Atlanta and trailing the Mets and Giants).

Pirates are 37-46 just past the halfway point. Through 83 games last year the Pirates were 39-44 and 10.5 games out. In 2009 the Pirate trail St. Louis by 7 games.

Late Rally Falls Short as Tribe Prevails

The Pirates collected two hits in the first inning and four hits in the 9th. In between they had just two hits. For the first eight innings, they had no runs. But scored four in the 9th. Unfortunately, the Indians scored four early runs off Ian Snell (who lasted just 2-2/3) and tacked on one more in the middle innings off of Evan Meek to hold out.

Cleveland starter David Huff allowed three singles, two walks and a double in eight innings. He was lifted for Matt Herges (blast from the past). Herges got into trouble almost immediately, giving up a lead off homer to Adam LaRoche. Herges was replaced by Kerry Wood who allowed two more run scoring knocks before getting LaRoche the Elder to whiff with the bases loaded and two out to end the game.

Huff picks up his third straight win. Snell is the loser and Wood is nicked but gets the save.

The Good

Better late than never for the offense. But, sheesh.

The bullpen went 6-1/3 and allowed just one run and three hits.

Matt Capps struck out the side in the 9th.

The Bad

Too many opposing starters pitching too deep into games.

Bucs have a five game losing streak.

The Rest

This is the second time this year (15 starts) that Snell has failed to get more than nine outs. From 2006-2008 (95 starts) he had only two such outings.

Adam LaRoche is hitting .338 with three dingers in June. Typical LaRoche summertime heat wave.

After 70 games last year, Pittsburgh was 34-36. This year the record stands at 31-39.

Bucs Fall in 15

The pitcher scheduled to start Wednesday’s game – Jeff Karstens – was forced into duty as the Pirates and Braves went long. Karstens ended it quickly by just one of the five hitters he faced. The winning run scored on a bases loaded grounder from former Bucco David Ross.

Atlanta’s bullpen blew a three run lead in the seventh, but then remained unscored upon for nearly nine straight innings. Rookie Kris Medlan tossed the final two innings for the win.

The Braves did some damage early against Zach Duke. He gave up six runs in six innings. Duke was taken deep by Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Nate McLouth (hey, his name is familiar).

The Good

Andrew McCutchen had four hits including a double and a pair of triples

Evan Meek tossed three scoreless innings

The Bad

Jason Jaramillo struck out four times and had to pull his foot off the plate to get Jack Wilson’s throw on Ross’ grounder in the 15th, allowing the winning run to score.

Craig Monroe was thrown out at home in the 11th trying to score on a double from McCutchen.

The Rest

This was the Pirates first 15 inning contest since last April 9th against the Cubs.

Meek has pitched three innings twice in his career. The other time was May 3, 2009 in relief of Jeff Karstens against Cincinnati.

This was McCutchen’s fifth career game. The last Pirate rookie to collect four or more hits this early in his career was John Wehner who had five singles on 7/23/91 against Atlanta.

Bobby Cox picked up his 2,000 win as Braves manager.

 

Hampton Sends Bucs Back to Earth

The one game euphoria I had after Andrew McCutchen’s successful ML debut has been driven from my mind.

Mike Hampton and Jeff Fulchino combined to limit the Pirates to six singles and one run. Hampton went seven, allowing five hits, the lone run and no walks. He whiffed five.

The Astros went to work against Jeff Karstens and then Evan Meek in the sixth inning to bust open a two run game. Houston scored seven times in that six frame courtesy of four hits and four walks from the Pirate hurlers. Carlos Lee’s grand slam was the highlight (lowlight) of the inning.

The Good

Delwyn Young had two hits.

Sean Burnett and Jesse Chavez each tossed an inning of scoreless relief.

The Bad

This was probably Karstens’ worst outing of the year. He went 5-2/3 and allowed six of the nine Houston tallies.

The Rest

You have to go back to 4-21-07 to find a game in which Karstens allowed six or more earned runs.

Delwyn Young has multiple hits in five of the 11 games he has started. He is also 6-15 as a pinch hitter.

Former Pirate Matt Kata hit into a double play as a pinch hitter for Houston. It was just his third MLB AB since 2007.

That was the 14th career Salami from Lee. He is tied for sixth among active players in career grand slams.