Maholm Shuts Down Astros

Paul Maholm went 8 shutout innings and the Pirates offense got just enough to give him the win. Maholm evened his record at 8-8 by allowing just five singles, a double and two walks.

Pittsburgh got an RBI single from Garrett Jones in the first off of Felipe Paulino and a solo homer from Ryan Doumit in the 8th. They would need it as Lance Berkman hit a solo dinger off of Matt Capps in the 9th. Capps recovered to get his first save of the month.

Paulino fell to 2-9 but gave up six hits and just that first inning run in five innings. He struck out seven.

The Good

Winning.

Ending the losing streak.

Maholm pitching well.

The Bad

Continued silence of the bats.

Capps continuing to scuffle.

The Rest

This is the fourth time this year that Maholm has not allowed an earned run in a start. The first since July 17.

Maholm is 8-4 career against Houston, the only team he has beaten more than four times.

Paulino was forced from his last appearance against the Pirates (6/7/09) with a groin injury.

Doumit came into the game hitting .370 in September.

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Ohlendorf’s Mistakes Prove Costly

Frustrated tonight. Missed the Notre Dame game due to travel. Caught the bulk of it on the radio. I’m of the opinion that a Lou Holtz defense wouldn’t have buckled with the game on the line. Listened to OSU/USC and now home in time to watch the finish.

And, of course, checking on my beloved, pathetic Buccos. Poor Ross Ohlendorf. He gave up only four hits in 6-1/3. Two of them were dingers. Both came with a man on. Four runs against. And he got just two runs of support. So, he took the loss.

Brian Moehler gave up both Pirate runs over six innings. But, he didn’t get the decision. Jeff Fulchino tossed a scoreless seventh and was the winner since Miguel Tejada’s tie-breaking dinger came in the home half of the 7th (Carlos Lee hit the other homer). Jose Valverde closed things out.

The Good

Ohlendorf – here’s hoping he keeps it up next year, too.

Ronny Cedeno and Lastings Milledge each had two hits.

The Bad

The losing. The lack of an offense.

Notre Dame gagging.

The Rest

Fulchino has two wins and has allowed no runs in 5-1/3 innings over four appearances against Pittsburgh in 2009.

Over his last 15 starts, Ohlendorf is just 5-5 despite an ERA around 3.50. He has allowed more than three earned runs in a start just twice since July.

Lee needs six more RBI to reach 100 for the fifth straight year.

And now the Buckeyes have lost…

Bucs Swoon Continues as Astros Pull Away

The Astros broke open a close game with six runs in the seventh inning as Pittsburgh’s conclusion to the baseball season gets uglier.

Charlie Morton pitched well enough – three earned runs in six innings.  But the offense struggled against rookie Bud Norris. He allowed just one run on six hits and seven whiffs in six innings.

The Astros big inning came at the expense of Joel Hanrahan and Jesse Chavez. The largest damage was a two out three run tater from Carlos Lee, which came on the heels of an error from Ryan Doumit during a rundown.

The Bucs lone run was a solo dinger from Andy LaRoche.

The Good

The season is almost over.

The Bad

All the losing.

The Rest

Is it possble that Jesse Chavez is out of gas? All three runs he let up were unearned, but his second half ERA is 6.00 in 21 IP after a 3.19 ERA in 36-2/3 IP in the first half.

This was Norris’ first career appearance against Houston.

This was Morton’s best appearance in his career against the Astros. Previously he allowed 11 earned runs over 10 innings in two starts. Morton posted an ERA way too close to 7.00 over his previous eight starts.

Rodriguez Tosses Complete Game Shutout

Wandy Rodriguez allowed just five hits in throwing his second shutout of his career. The Pirates collected five singles and failed to advance a runner beyond second base. Rodriguez walked one and faced just four over the minimum as Houston executed a pair of double plays.

Houston hit Charlie Morton for a pair of runs in the third and three more in the fourth. Lance Berkman knocked in the final two runs with a double in the fourth. Morton left the game for a pinch hitter in the visitor’s half of the fifth. He gave up five earned runs on 10 hits in four innings.

Rodriguez struck out 11.

The Good

Andrew McCutchen tossed Miguel Tejada out at the plate in the third to prevent more damage.

The Bad

Um. The offense.

Freddy Sanchez was out with back issues again.

Morton got 12 outs and put 11 men on base (10 hits and a walk).

The Rest

Rodriguez’ 11 whiffs tied a career mark. He now has four wins against the Pirate for his career. That is the second most for him behind Cincinnati with five.

The Pirates have been shut out eight times in 2009 after having been shut out seven times in all of 2008.

In 2008 the Pirates were held to five hits or fewer 22 times and went 3-19 in those games. Thus far in 2009 the total of games being held to five hits or fewer is 17 with a record of 1-16 in them.

Maholm, Astros Defense Help Bucs Past Houston

Paul Maholm was effective in winning for just the third time in his last 13 starts. He went six innings and gave up two runs on five singles, a double and a pair of walks.

The Pirates offense was kick started by Jack Wilson who blasted a two out homer in the third. Houston edge back into it against Maholm with single runs in the third and the sixth. But things went the Buccos way in the 7th. Brian Moehler who had retired the side in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth, allowed consecutive walks with one out in the 7th. He was pulled for Tim Byrdak who also gave up a BB to load ’em. Byrdak gave way to Chris Sampson. Jason Jaramillo’s grounder to first baseman Lance Berkman was fielded cleanly. Berkman’s throw home was a bad one, allowing a run to score and all to be safe. Delwyn Young (pinch hitting for Maholm), Andrew McCutchen and Wilson all followed with RBI hits to blow it open.

But it wasn’t over yet. Joel Hanrahan was allowed to pitch in a game that was far from over and was charged with a run in the 7th after giving way to John Grabow. Houston loaded the bases with one out in the 8th before Grabow got Jeff Keppinger to hit into an inning ending DP. Matt Capps got three ground ball outs in the 9th to seal it.

Moehler went 6-1/3 and gave up three earned runs on three hits and two walks.

The Good

Bucs made the most of a few opportunities. Seven hits and six runs.

McCutchen, Wilson and Jones each had two hits.

Maholm was good.

Bucs turned three double plays.

The Bad

Why is Joel Hanrahan in a game in the 7th?

Freddy Sanchez was out again.

The Rest

Jones stole two bases. He had one swipe in the Show coming into the game (in 37 career ML games) and 54 career steals in 1,038 career minor league games.

Wilson’s homer was his 10th in Houston, making it easily his favorite road homer park. Next closest is Great American in Cincy with 4. He also hit two in Cinergy/Riverfront.

This was the second time in July the Pirates scored six or more runs on fewer than 10 hits. Other time was July 3rd against Florida.

Barring an injury, McCutchen is set up to have the best debut season by a Pirate since Warren Morris (not rookie season as that would be Jason Bay, but debut season). No Pirate since Morris has had 50 runs and 50 RBIs in their debut season.

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.

Houston Rallies Late to Beat Bucs

Steven Jackson gave up three runs in 1.1 innings of work over the 7th and 8th innings as the Pirates dropped two of three to Houston. Miguel Tejada delivered a two out RBI infield single in the 7th to break a 3-3 tie. On that play former Pirate Matt Kata scored from second, not stopping on the play since there were two gone. In the 8th, Jackson put two on with one away and was relieved by Jesse Chavez. He allowed run scoring hits to Humberto Quintero and former Pirate Jason Michaels to put Houston up 6-3.

The Pirates scored once and brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Freddy Sanchez in the 9th, but couldn’t come through LaTroy Hawkins.

Ian Snell gave up three runs in six innings. He walked one and whiffed three. Astros starter Felipe Paulino left in the second with a groin issue. He gave way to Russ Ortiz, who tossed 4-1/3 innings of shutout ball. Ortiz was in line for the win but the Pirates scored twice in the visitor’s half of the 7th off of Tim Brydak, setting up Jackson’s ineffective effort.

The Good

Andrew McCutchen logged his first three hit game.

The Pirates defense recorded three double plays, including a strike ’em out/throw ’em out.

Snell was decent. That’s a positive sign.

The Bad

Tough when the bullpen falters.

Ramon Vazquez bobbled Tejada’s grounder in the 7th, allowing

The Rest

This was the 11th career game in which Humberto Quintero had two or more RBI. Three of those are against Pittsburgh. This was his second career three hit game.

Michael Bourn has two hits in five of his last six games.

Jeff Fulchino picked up his first ML win.

Sanchez is in the midst of a 2-18 (and 4-27) streak.