Duke, LaRoche Lead Pirates Over LA

Gomer Pyle: Surprise, surprise, surprise

The Pirates took three of four from the front running Dodgers. Zach Duke was inexplicably pulled from the game sporting an 11-1 lead with no one on and one in with two gone in the 9th. He allowed just one run over those 8-2/3 IP while striking out six. He won his career best 11th of the season.

On the offense, Andy LaRoche busted out with a pair of homers and six RBI. He missed the cycle by a triple. He singled twice and double to total five hits and four runs along with his half dozen ribbies. Is there hope for him yet? Andrew McCutchen singled three times and scored three runs. Garrett Jones dingered for the 21st time and knocked in two runs.

Hiroki Kuroda was victimized for seven runs in four innings. Just three were earned as an error on the first batter of the third inning by Mark Loretta opened the door to a five run outburst by the Smokey City Nine.

The Good

Duke’s effort was deserving of a complete game shot. Not sure why John Russell would pull him. Duke threw 103 pitches.

The newbies – LaRoche, Jones and McCutchen.

The Bad

Bucs made two errors

More of this wasn’t around three months ago.

The Rest

LaRoche’s previous single game best was three RBI back on 6-1-09. Prior to this afternoon, he’d had five games in which he collected three hits and exactly zero four hit games. This was his first career two homer game. This was also the first time he scored more than twice in one game. This was the third game in 2009 in which a Pirates collected six RBI. Andrew McCutchen and (gasp) Craig Monroe have the other two.

This was the 7th time in 2009 that Duke went at least 8 innings. He had just six such outings in the last three seasons combined. He lowered his season ERA to under four with this effort.

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Bucs Stage Improbable Comeback in Victory

Daniel McCutchen almost got the win. The Pirates were 9 outs away, clinging to a one run lead. Luis Cruz mishandled an inning ending DP grounder in the 7th, allowing the tying run to score. No decision for McCutchen (6 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs).

In the 9th, LA put their first three runners on base en route to scoring three times off of Matt Capps. At that point, whatever slight breeze that was keeping my sails half empty dissipated entirely. No hope.

But yet, there was. With Jonathan Broxton on in the 9th, the Pirates came all the way back. Andy LaRoche singled in one run. With the bases loaded, Lastings Milledge delivered what should have been a game tying single. But the ball scooted past Andre Ethier and Garrett Jones scored all the way from first with the game winning run. Woo hoo!

That made a winner of Capps and hung Broxton with the loss. Clayton Kershaw made the start for LA and was pulled after four innings as he is coming off a hiatus from pitching due to a separated shoulder.

The Good

Taking at least two of four from LA. Going for the series win tomorrow!

McCutchen pitched well.

Andrew McCutchen had three hits. LaRoche and Milledge each drove in two.

The Bad

The 7th and the 9th defensive half innings.

The Rest

LaRoche had just his fourth multi-RBI game of the second half of the year.

This was Andrew McCutchen sixth game with three or more hits.

This was the fifth time in 2009 that Capps has allowed three or more runs in a single outing. He had just four such incidents in 2007 and 2008 combined.

Pirates need to go 5-3 to avoid a 100 loss season.

Dodgers Walk to Victory

It looked okay for a brief period. The Pirates rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Randy Wolf had held the Pirates to just a solo homer from Andy LaRoche through six. But Andrew McCutchen’s two run single put the Pirates up 4-3 with just six outs to play.

But the Pirates bullpen came undone. LA scored four runs in the 8th inning, due in large part to four walks issued by three different Pirate relievers. Jim Thome’s first two RBI as a Dodger came via a pinch hit single in that fateful 8th inning. Two other runs were forced home due to bases on balls. Denny Bautista started it, couldn’t finish it and was tabbed the loser. That made a winner of George Sherrill who had gotten the last out for the Dodgers in the 7th.

Wolf – 6-1/3 IP, 2 earned runs on four hits with five walks – and Bucs starter Paul Maholm were left without a decision. Maholm lasted seven and gave up the first three Dodger runs. He gave up seven hits and struck out only one.

The Good

A comeback – almost.

The Bad

All the walks.

The leaky bullpen.

And all the losing in general.

The Rest

Buc pitchers surrendered a total of 8 walks. This was the 7th time all year the club has put that many men on base via free pass. The offense has received that many walks or more just three times this year.

In case you didn’t know, the Pirates have scored the fewest runs in the NL this season. What the second half have looked like without Garrett Jones?

Luis Cruz had his second two hit game of 2009 and drove in his second run on the year.

Since acquring Thome from Chicago, Joe Torre has deployed the slugger only as a pinch hitter. He has been spelling James Loney with Mark Loretta. Thome came into the game hitting just .211 for his career as a pinch hitter. Manny Mota he is not.

Randy Wolf is 7-1 career vs. Pittsburgh. His last loss to the Smoky City Nine was June 30, 2000. Wolf is 3rd all-time in wins among pitchers born in 1976. He is behind Javier Vazquez and Ted Lilly. He is tied with Kelvim Escobar. Also born that year include three members of the Pirate family – Jimmy Anderson, Victor Santos and Brandon Duckworth (Spring Training only for Duckworth).

Bucs most go 6-3 to avoid 100 losses.

No Joke: Bucs Beat LA

I’ll take a win, no matter how unorthodox. Jeff Karstens, coming off the DL and having not thrown more than 60 pitches in a game since his last start in June, started and was on a quick hook. He pitched three mostly effective innings (one run and three hits), but was pulled after 48 pitches. In his place came Donnie Veal at the best of times. The Bucs were up and the starter hadn’t gone five. Thanks to two scoreless innings from Veal and shutout efforts from three others – including a perfect 9th from Matt Capps – Veal picked up his first career W.

The Pirates scored three unearned runs off Jon Garland. Blake DeWitt’s error in the first led to a sac fly from Garrett Jones. James Loney’s miscue in the third set up a two run, two out single from Brandon Moss.

Garland went six, gave up three unearned runs and whiffes six. He allowed six hits – five singles and a double.

The Good

A win.

Good pitching. Pirate starters walked none!

The Bad

Continued offensive woes.

The Rest

Last time the Pirates won a game in which the starter didn’t pitch five innings was 7-22-09 when Paul Maholm left after 4-2/3 in an 8-7 win over Milwaukee.

There are only four players in the Majors right now under the age of 30 with more than 100 career wins. Jon Garland is one of them. The others are Josh Beckett, C.C. Sabathia and Carlos Zambrano.

Moss has had three different two RBI games in September – his most of any month this year.

Last time the Pirates walked zero hitters in a game was August 22nd against Cincinnati.

Rajai Davis was in Sports Illustrated this week. Got me thinking – I hadn’t looked up his numbers in a while. So, how is the Rajai Davis Phenomenon doing? Let’s just say he is clearly having a better season than Moss is. Not really even close.

10 games left. Pirates need to go 6-4 to avoid 100 losses.

 

Kemp’s Homer Paces Dodgers in Sweep

Matt Kemp hit a two run dinger in the sixth as Kevin Hart’s solid effort was wasted. Jason Jaramillo drove in the Pirates lone run in the second with a single. It stayed that way until Kemp’s homer. Ronnie Belliard hit a solo tater off of Phil Dumatrait in the 8th for the last score.

Hiroki Kuroda was the winner. He K’d seven, walked none, gave up six hits and just one run in six innings. Hart gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings of toil. But it wasn’t enough.

The Good

The starters have done a swell job in LA.

The Bad

The bullpen – not so much of a good job. Ditto the offense.

The Rest

The Dodger bullpen tossed 12 innings without allowing an earned run.

The Pirates whiffed 11 times overall. Steve Pearce was 0-4 but was the only member of the starting 8 not to strike out.

This was the 26th time that Pirate hitters have whiffed in double digits. Pirate pitchers have hit double digits just 9 times.

As Matt Kemp approaches 100 RBI, let’s look for the last home grown Dodger to reach triple digits. It was Adrian Beltre in 2004. Eric Karros (five times) and Mike Piazza (three times) each did it a bunch. Last farm raised Bucco was Aramis Ramirez in 2001.

Bucs Blow Late Leads Twice, Lose in 13

Matt Capps blew a save in the 9th and sent the game into extra innings. Phil Dumatrait did the same in the 13th and lost the game.

Pirates starter Zach Duke was on. He went 7-1/3 and allowed only four hits and two runs. He whiffed seven. He was in line for the win until Matt Kemp drove in Andre Ethier with two out in the 9th off of Capps.

The Pirates pushed one across in the 13th thanks to an error from Casey Blake and an RBI single from Ryan Doumit. But Phil Dumatrait, called on after gone and Rafael Furcal on first, gave up a two run homer to Ethier to end the game.

The Pirates scored three runs early as Steve Pearce homered and Duke had an RBI single in the second. Dodgers starter Randy Wolf allowed all three runs in seven innings on five hits.

Ethier’s dinger made a winner of former Pirate farmhand Ronald Belisario, who had given up the unearned tally in the 13th.

The Good

Pearce’s homer. We need to see what he can do over the final couple of weeks.

Duke’s effort was stellar.

The Bad

Blowing two leads.

Not getting any offense after the second

The Rest

That was Duke’s second 7 K performance in 2009. He has not struck out more than that since he was a rookie in 2005. Duke came into the game with an ERA over 7.00 against LA for his career.

Wolf is 7-1 in his career against Pittsburgh and had won his last four starts against the Pirates.

Ethier has 98 RBI and Kemp now has 92. The Dodgers haven’t had teammates with 100 RBI since 2001 when Gary Sheffield and Shawn Green did it.

Belisario has not allowed an earned run in his last 10 appearances, covering 9-2/3 IP. His ERA is below 2.00 on the season, his first in the majors.

 

 

Dodgers, Garland Add to Bucs Woes

Jon Garland wasn’t sharp, but he didn’t allow the Pirates to have a big inning. The Bucs put runners on base in each of the first five innings, but only managed single runs in the fourth and fifth. Meanwhile, LA had matched that total coming into the bottom of the fifth when Andre Ethier hit a two run homer off of Daniel McCutchen to break a 2-2 tie,

The Dodgers added two more runs off the Pirates bullpen while LA’s relief corp combined for three perfect innings.

McCutchen allowed seven hits and four runs in five innings. Garland gave up three walks and six hits in six innings.

The Good

Andy LaRoche, hitting from the #2 spot, had two singles and scored a run.

The Bad

Daniel McCutchen didn’t pitch all too well.

Bucs have lost 15 of 17.

The Rest

Ethier now has 96 RBI. Assuming he gets four more, he will become LA’s first outfielder with 100 RBI in a season since J.D. Drew in 2006.

Each of the Dodgers starting 8 had at least one knock.

Garland has reached double digits in wins every year since 2002. This was his third career appearance and first career win against Pittsburgh.