The Pittsburgh Pirates finally "lost" close, falling to the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 last night at PNC. Somehow, this qualifies as a positive, given that 15 of the Bucs' 23 losses this season have come by five runs or more. But to me, they all count the same. Just like a win is a win, a loss is a loss.
This particular "L" falls under the "blown leads" category, as the Bucs went up 3-0 in the first on a two-run triple by Steve Pearce and an RBI double by Andy LaRoche. But the Pirates would squander later opportunities with baserunning that would make Little Leaguers blush, a hallmark of any John Russell-coached team.
Paul Maholm allowed four hits, four runs, and three walks in his seven innings of work, whiffing seven Brewers. He absorbed the loss, dropping his record to 3-4 on the year. Milwaukee pitcher Chris Narveson surrendered seven hits and three runs to Bucco batters, upping his mark to 4-1.
The game had a 25-minute delay in the top of the second after ump John Hirschbeck was plunked with a Narveson pitch that Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun failed to catch. Hirschbeck left the game with concussion-like symptoms, and it continued with a three-man crew. Not to blame the delay, but Maholm was coincidentally touched for two runs in that frame after going 1-2-3 through the Brew Crew in the first.
The Pirates certainly had their chances to pull this one out, especially with the Brewers using a new closer (Carlos Villaneuva) in place of the looking-like-he's-totally-finished Trevor Hoffman, who was 5-for-10 in save opportunities this year. But with the tying run on and one out in the ninth, Delwyn Young grounded into a double play, ending the game and ending any opportunity to gain the nickname, "Mr. Clutch".
Tonight, the Atlanta Braves come into town, and the pitching matchup pits Ross Ohlendorf (0-1, 3.00) against Tim Hudson (4-1, 2.41). Gametime is set for 7:05 at PNC, but you might want to arrive early and get a glimpse of Jason Heyward in BP.
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