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.
A comeback – almost.
All the walks.
The leaky bullpen.
And all the losing in general.
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.