Jones Beats Happ, Phils with 8th Inning Dinger

The Pirates took two of three from Philadelphia thanks to some late game heroics from Garret Jones. Trailing 2-1 in the 8th, the Pirates had been manhandled by Philadelphia rookie J.A. Happ. Pinch hitter Ronny Cedeno singled leading off, but Happ retired the next two hitters without incident. Jones followed with a two run homer to put the Pirates up 3-2. Matt Capps closed the victory.

Through the first seven innings, Happ had allowed just five hits. One of those was Andrew McCutchen’s solo homer in the first inning. Cutch’s drive tied the score at one each as Bucs starter Charlie Morton loaded the bases with none out in the first, but managed to escape with only one run allowed.

Morton yielded a solo homer to Paul Bako in the second and the score stayed that way until the 8th. Happ tossed a complete game in a losing effort and gave up all three Pirate runs. Morton went six and gave up both Phillie runs on five hits. He struck out six. Denny Bautista tossed two perfect innings and got the win in relief.

The Good

Taking two of three from the division leaders.

Happy with Morton’s outing.

Jones

The Bad

The team continues to struggle to draw walks, picking up just two.

The Rest

The Pirates have drawn the third fewest walks in the NL, leading only Houston and San Fran.

Jones has five homers in August after hitting 10 in July.

Happ beat the Pirates in his only other start against them on July 12.

Morton’s only other appearance against Philadelphia was a debacle. He lasted two innings in a loss while pitching for Atlanta 7/1/08.

Andy LaRoche hit cleanup for the 7th time in August. He is just 4-25 out of that spot with one XBH and two RBI.

The most impressive number of the day was the 85 that Ross Van Burkleo posted in the slop at the Oak Brook Park Marriott Resort golf course.

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Howard’s 10th Inning Bomb Foils Bucco Comeback

Paul Maholm and Cole Hamels were each effective over a long stretch. Maholm yielded a solo homer to Chase Utley in the first inning and was otherwise unscored upon in seven innings. He struck out four and gave up five hits. Hamels whiffed seven and allowed seven hits in eight shut out innings.

But the bullpen woes continued for the visitors. Ryan Madson gave up a pinch hit game tying solo dinger to Brandon Moss in the bottom of the 9th.

However, the Pirates bullpen faltered immediately. Steven Jackson started the 10th, but was pulled after allowing the first two runners to reach. Phil Dumatrait relieved and gave up a three run homer to Ryan Howard. Madson held the Pirates at Bay in the 10th and picked up the blown save, win.

The Good

A comeback

Maholm was good.

The Bad

The offense.

Allowing Hamels maybe to find his mojo.

The Rest

Hamels only win against the Pirates in three tries came back in 2006.

Maholm has allowed just two earned runs in his last 23 IP (dating back to 2008) against Philly.

Howard came into the game with just one homer in 55 career ABs at PNC.

Moss homered four times in July, but had not homered in over a month (July 22).

 

Cutch Bails Out Capps in Walk Off Win

The evening was full of drama. I’m in Chicago and took in my first game ever at Wrigley. I was on hand to watch Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs get pounded by Washington (shout out to Dave and Ross who are rooming with each other temporarily). Elijah Dukes hit a grand slam to blow the game open.Got to see Tom Gorzelanny come in from the bullpen and pitch. Plus, Aramis Ramirez. Big night for ex-Buccos.

Also did quite a bit of scoreboard watching as the game I witnessed live was quickly getting out of hand.

Jimmy Rollins provided early fireworks with a pair of solo homers off of Ross Ohlendorf. The Pirates countered with their own long ball as homers from Ryan Doumit and Steve Pearce put the home town nine up 3-2. Ohlendorf went 6-1/3 and allowed just the two runs on five hits. The Pirates trotted out three relievers to be able to hand the ball to Matt Capps in the 9th. After a pair of doubles tied the scored, Shane Victorino tripled over the head of Andrew McCutchen who misplayed the ball, allowing the go ahead run to score.

Cutch got it back in the 9th. Brad Lidge was on and didn’t retire a batter. A single, a wild pitch and a single from Brandon Moss tied the score. McCutchen then delivered a walk off dinger. Ball game. Bucs win.

That was Lidge’s 9th blown save of the year. Capps has blown four times, but picked up the win in this case. Phils starter Joe Blanton allowed three runs in six innings and struck out seven.

The Good

Coming back and winning.

Cutch in the clutch

The Bad

Blowing a win for Ohlendorf.

Garrett Jones was 0-3 with a walk and three whiffs.

The Rest

Doumit had his first two walk game since 9/3/08.

Blanton had allowed just one earned run in 14-1/3 IP in two previous outings against the Pirates.

Capps blew five saves in 2008. His ERA last year was a full 3.50 runs lower than where it stands now.

This was McCutchen’s first walk off homer and the first time he homered after the sixth inning.

The Rest

Happ, Feliz Help Phils Complete Sweep

The Pirates limped into the All-Star break having been swept by their cross-state rivals. Pedro Feliz poked a first inning grand slam and J.A. Happ limited the Pirates to one run on four hits and two walks in seven innings.

Virgil Vasquez didn’t live to see the third inning. After giving up five runs in the first inning, Vasquez put two on with one out in the second and was pulled for Jeff Karstens. The Pirates bullpen was stingy, allowing just two hits and one walk the final 7-2/3 innings of the game. Karstens tossed 3-2/3 of no hit baseball.

The Pirates offense consisted of an RBI double from Freddy Sanchez (who had two hits), knocking in Andrew McCutchen (who also had two hits) and a solo homer in the 9th from Garrett Jones.

The Good

Bucs can’t lose tomorrow.

Karstens was effective, whiffing four. Have to believe he will get another shot as a starter in the 2nd half.

The Bad

Offense.

Bucs hit into three double plays – one traditional, one unassisted DP at the hands of Chase Utley and one fake out job that got McCutchen doubled off first on a fly ball from Sanchez.

Vasquez got knocked around. I don’t think he’ll have too many more chances.

The Rest

Jones has homered in three straight games.

Karstens lowered his ERA as a reliever to 2.70 with his effort today.

This was Happ’s first appearance against the Pirates. He is unbeaten in six decisions in 2009.

Bucs are 38-50 after 88 games. At the same point last year, the club was 41-47. Bucs need to go 44-30 the rest of the way to avoid a sub .500 season.

Capps Torched in 9th as Phils Stage Comeback

Mark this one down as devastating. Carrying a 7-3 lead heading into the 9th, Matt Capps was summoned from the bullpen to finish out the game. One out later, Paul Bako delivered a walk off single to end the game. Prior to that former Bucco Matt Stairs had hit a solo homer leading off the inning and Ryan Howard clubbed a game tying three run shot.

The Pirates had gotten to Cole Hamels early, leading 5-0 after two innings. Garrett Jones, Delwyn Young and Andrew McCutchen each homered and drove in two in support of Ross Ohlendorf.

The Bucs starter was cruising, allowing just two hits through five innings. But the Phillies scored three times on four safeties in the sixth, knocking Ohlendorf from the game.

Ohlendorf allowed three runs in 5-2/3 IP. He gave up four walks and five hits while whiffing five. Hamels gave up five runs in six innings, striking out six and walking none. Tyler Walker pitched a scoreless 9th for the win.

The Good

 Bucs cranked three homers and collected 10 hits.

The Bad

The Phillies stole five bases off of Ryan Doumit.

The Rest

This was the third time in 2009 that the Phillies swiped five or more bags.

Hamels won his only other career appearance against the Pirates, back on 7/9/06.

That was just Howard’s second career homer against Pittsburgh. He has three or more against every other NL team.

Matt Stairs ranks among the top 40 in career OPS+ at 119. He’s ahead of Tony Clark, Sean Casey, Paul Konerko and even Carlos Lee.

This was the second time this year and just the third time in his career that Capps allowed four or more runs in an inning. Five runs is a career worst for runs allowed in a single frame.

In the 7th Jack Wilson made a highlight reel catch, sliding with his back to the plate and making an over the shoulder catch of a blooper from Shane Victorino. Wilson jumped to his feet and doubled Jimmy Rollins off first.

This was the Pirates fourth game in 2009 in which they hit three dingers.

This was the second time in July that the Pirates reached double digits in hits.

Bucs Bats Silent Again as Duke Loses

Zach Duke pitched a complete game and gave up just three runs. But the Pirates managed just six hits off of Joe Blanton and two Phillies relievers.

Blanton went 7-1/3 and gave up just a single run – a solo homer to Garrett Jones in the first. Brandon Moss homered in the 9th off of Brad Lidge to pull the Pirates to within a run.

Philadelphia did all their damage in the third inning. Jayson Werth’s two run double capped the scoring. Only two of the runs were earned as an error by Andrew McCutchen (his second) allowed runners to advance an extra pair of bases.

Following the third, Duke retired the side in order in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th innings. Overall he gave up five hits and three walks while striking out six.

Blanton also struck out six and gave up four hits. Lidge picked up the win.

The Good

Duke, with a little more run support, would be on the All-Star team. He should have double digits in wins.

Welcome back, Freddy Sanchez. Two hits in his return to the line up.

The Bad

Offense. Sick of saying it. Help!

The Rest

Duke had three career complete games coming into this season and has three in 2009. The six strikeout effort is his second highest of the year.

Jones has a six game hitting streak.

Blanton has allowed just one run to the Pirates in 14-1/3 innings in two starts. He received a no decision in his first outing – 8/8/08.