Karstens, Pirates Shut Out Cardinals

This was an exciting game. Jeff Karstens was extremely efficient in shutting down the Cardinals for six innings, which was good, because the Cards' pitcher Jaime Garcia had a very funky breaking ball and just generally looked very tough to hit. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Pirate who looked the best against Garcia was Steve Pearce, who singled in the second (after barely missing a double down the line) and walked in the fourth. Pearce also made a terrific play in the eighth, running a full 50 feet toward home to catch a pop-up bunt by Brendan Ryan. Pearce is solid defensively and he has a very good idea what he's doing against lefties; I really think he can be a valuable part-time player for the Bucs. 

Anyway, the Pirates had a 1-0 lead in the fifth when they got a huge gift from home plate ump Marty Foster. Ryan Ludwick tried to come home on a single by Colby Rasmus. Lastings Milledge's throw was offline toward third, and Jason Jaramillo caught it and whirled around to make the tag. The TV replay wasn't completely clear, but Jaramillo definitely missed Ludwick by at least a few inches. Foster called him out anyway.

In the next inning, the Pirates pinch-hit for Jeff Karstens with Jeff Clement with two on and two outs. This was a somewhat weird decision, given that Karstens had only thrown 74 pitches, Clement has struggled recently, and the pitcher was left-handed. Foster, perhaps in a weird acknowledgement of the mistake he'd made at the top of the inning, called two strikes on Clement that weren't in the zone, and the Pirates didn't score.

Fortunately, the Pirates' bullpen made that irrelevant. D.J. Carrasco and Jack Taschner combined to pitch a scoreless seventh inning, and Joel Hanrahan notched a righteous swinging strikeout of Albert Pujols to finish the eighth. Cards third baseman David Freese gave the Pirates an insurance run as a gift. After Milledge walked and stole second, Pearce grounded out to Freese, who had wandered right into Milledge's path and had Milledge dead to rights, but Freese threw to first anyway. Milledge then came up on a single by Jaramillo. Octavio Dotel pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out the last two batters. Awesome game.

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