Greinke Prevents Sweep

Zach Greinke was once again tough, allowing just two runs – split apart by an hour long rain delay – in 6-1/3 innings of work. The Bucs were trailing 2-0 heading into the bottom of the 7th. Adam LaRoche singled and after Andy LaRoche tripled him in, play was stopped. Jamey Wright took the thill following the delay. He allowed an RBI groundout to Jason Jaramillo as the Royals bullpen retired the final eight Pirate hitters to seal the deal.

David DeJesus homered and drove in two off of Charlie Morton who suffered his first setback on the year. He gave up three runs on seven hits in five innings.

The Good

The bullpen tossed four scoreless innings, giving up just one hit.

Jeff Karstens tossed another scoreless inning in relief.

The Bad

Andrew McCutchen was once again hitless, dropping his average below .300.

Offense still can’t get going.

The Rest

Greinke picked up his 10th win.

The Pirates won consecutive series for the first time since taking 2 of 3 from Colorado and then 3 of 4 from Washington (5-15 to 5-20).

Adam LaRoche is hitting .365 for June.

Through 75 games last year, the Buccos were 36-39 and 11 games out. This year they are one game worse at 35-40 yet remain in striking distance, entering today’s game at 5 out.

 

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Maholm Sharp as Bucs Win 4th Straight

Paul Maholm allowed just four singles, a triple and two runs in seven innings to beat KC. He put the Pirates in a hole early as Billy Butler had RBI singles in the first and third innings. But Delwyn Young popped a three run homer in the fourth and added an insurance RBI in the 8th to pace the offense.

Bruce Chen was the loser. He made his way back from Tommy John surgery to make his first appearance since April 20, 2007.

John Grabow and Jeff Karstens finished up with an inning each of shutout relief.

The Good

Young continues to be a productive bat.

Maholm has scuffled a bit lately (4-6 with a 5.22 ERA in his last 10 starts). It’d be great to get him going.

The Bad

Andrew McCutchen failed to reach base for the first time since June 10 and had his first ever streak of consecutive hitless games.

The Rest

Chen’s last start was 8/4/06. Chen’s last appearance against Pittsburgh was 6/8/05 when he was beaten by the pitching of Kip Wells and four RBI from Rob Mackowiak.

Young established a career best in RBI.

Vasquez Sharp in Bucs Debut

Exit Ian Snell, enter Virgil Vasquez. The Pirates waiver wire acquisition who hadn’t tossed in the Show since 2007 picked up his first career win with six solid innings. He allowed four hits and two runs, while whiffing seven. He took the roster spot of the struggling Ian Snell who was sent to Indianapolis to get straightened out.

The Pirates trailed 2-0 early but came back on the shoulders of three unlikely power sources. Jack Wilson, Nyjer Morgan and Jason Jaramillo each homered to hand the loss to Gil Meche.

Matt Capps finished up by allowing a home run in the 9th and putting the tying run on base.

The Good

Welcome Virgil Vasquez! More, please!

Andrew McCutchen had his hitting streak stopped but reached base on an HBP and BB and scored both times.

The Bad

The offense continues to just get by with enough runs in putting together a three game winning streak.

The Rest

Vasquez joins Steven Jackson as Pirates who notched their first career win in 2009.

Vasquez’ seven K performance is second best on the team in June. He topped seven whiffs at AAA Indy this season just once.

Jack Wilson has raised his BA 20 points in the last 10 games by hitting safely in 9 of 10 contests and piling up four multi-hit games.

McCutchen Rallies Bucs Past Tribe

Anyone here not impressed by Andrew McCutchen. The Bucs rookie CF was involved in all three Pirate runs – scoring once and driving in two – as the Pirates erased a two run deficit against Cliff Lee.

Lee and Ross Ohlendorf each allowed two runs in seven innings of work. Neither got the decision. That would be left to the bullpens. Both relief corps walked the bases loaded in the 8th. For the Pirates John Grabow walked three but escaped when he whiffed Ryan Garko. Earlier in the inning Nyjer Morgan tracked down a long fly off the bat of Victor Martinez. Joe Smith walked two in 1/3 IP and Rafael Perez walked one, but got Jason Jaramillo to ground into an inning ending DP.

Matt Herges was on in the 9th but gave up three straight singles – to Jack Wilson, Eric Hinske and Cutch – for a walk off win for the Pirates. Matt Capps tossed the 9th for his first win of the year.

The Good

Have to be happy taking 2 of 3.

Ohlendorf was fine, allowing five hits and three walks in seven.

McCutchen has a 13 game hitting streak.

The Bad

The offense continues to gimp along. There was clutchness when it counted most tonight.

The Rest

This was the fourth time this year Ohlendorf pitched seven or more innings. Ian Snell has gone that far just three times. Jeff Karstens pitched seven or more just once in his 10 starts before being pulled from the rotation.

A scary thought hit me that Cutch’s start is too reminiscent of Chris Duffy’s hot start back in 2005.

Jack Wilson had his fifth game this year with three or more hits. He had just five such games in all of 2008.

Bucs Win Comedy of Errors

Zach Duke allowed just one run in six innings to get his 8th win. He was supported by Adam LaRoche who homered and drove in three runs. But the defense committed three errors. That helped Cleveland score five runs in the 9th (just two earned) off of Steven Jackson to make the final 10-6.

The Pirates had been the beneficiaries of a Cleveland miscue earlier in the game. With two out and nothing happening, rookie SS Luis Valbuena committed a throwing error allowing Freddy Sanchez to reach base and allowing the floodgates to open. The Pirates piled on six runs, with a Jason Jaramillo homer capping the scoring.

Carl Pavano took the loss. He gave up 11 hits in 3-2/3 innings. He was charged with eight runs, with just three being earned. Duke struck out four, walked two and allowed a double and four singles.

The Good

Mark it down – Zach Duke will be an All-Star this year.

Andew McCutchen has a 12 game hitting streak.

With three RBI, Adam LaRoche passed the departed Nate McLouth for the team lead in RBI with 36.

The Bad

The defense. Andy LaRoche had a couple of errors, giving him 8 on the season.

The Rest

Zach Duke set a career high with wins in a half a season with 8. He won seven in the second half of his rookie year way back in 2005.

LaRoche is hitting .357 in June.

 

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.

Blackburn Goes the Distance for Twinkies

Nick Blackburn tossed his first complete game and was thisclose to his first career shutout. He limited the Pirates to six hits and a run. Zach Duke gave up three runs in six innings, but it wasn’t enough.

Michael Cuddyer and Brian Buscher, who came into the game hitting less than .200, both homered to support Blackburn. Andy LaRoche drove in the Pirates only run with a 9th inning single

The Good

Nothing to complain about with Duke.

I got nothing else.

The Bad

Nyjer Morgan lost two balls in the roof and bobbled another.

The Rest

Blackburn had gotten more than 24 outs just one other time in his career.

Bucs drew just one free pass. This was the 15th time all year they drew one or fewer BB.On the flip side, they whiffed just twice – the fourth time all year they totaled 2 or fewer Ks.

Andy LaRoche is in the middle of a 3-25 slump.