Pirates Somehow Escape With Series Win In 5-4 Victory

Wow, I can't believe the Pirates won that one. The Bucs got off to a 2-0 lead early on thanks to RBI singles by Ronny Cedeno and Pedro Alvarez, but the Cubs came storming back after Carlos Pena hit a bases-loaded double to deep right, which Garrett Jones probably wouldn't have caught even if a fan hadn't (accidentally) dropped his beer on Jones' face.

An RBI single by Lyle Overbay gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead in the fifth, but in the bottom of the inning, Starlin Castro hit a triple, and then a sac fly by Darwin Barney brought him home. Ross Ohlendorf - whose command had been shaky throughout the game - then walked two of the next three batters, and Clint Hurdle made the curious decision to have Ohlendorf hit in the top of the sixth. (He actually did single, which I guess made Hurdle look brilliant, at least for a couple of minutes.) Anyway, Ohlendorf came out in the sixth and left a fastball up for Alfonso Soriano to destroy. 4-3, Cubs. There's no way Ohlendorf should have been out there to let that happen; everyone in the gamethread was screaming about it.

Mike Crotta came on in the bottom of the seventh, becoming the third player from the Pirates' 2006 draft to play in the majors (Brad Lincoln and Alex Presley were the others). He looked great, getting Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez before striking out Pena with a good sinker.

The Pirates loaded the bases in the top half of the eighth thanks to two singles and an error, but Jose Tabata flied out to right, and the Cubs gunned down the ultra-slow Jason Jaramillo at home.

After Jeff Karstens got through the eighth, the Pirates got two men on against the excellent Carlos Marmol when Jones walked and Neil Walker singled. After Overbay sacrificed, Pedro Alvarez hit an infield single. Jones scored, and Walker aggressively came home from second after Starlin Castro threw to first. Walker narrowly beat the throw home. 5-4 Pirates, and I guess since I attacked Clint Hurdle for his apparent decision to have Jose Tabata bunt yesterday (EDIT: although it's not clear if that happened due to a missed sign), I have to give him a bit of credit for this one. That was some terrific, alert baserunning by Walker, too.

In the bottom of the inning, Joel Hanrahan came on throwing gas as usual, but Castro singled against him with one out. Hanrahan then induced a tailor-made double-play ball from Darwin Barney, but Ronny Cedeno airmailed the throw over Walker and into the outfield, putting runners at first and third. At that point, I was sure the Pirates were going to blow it. Fortunately, Hanrahan gave Cedeno another chance with another grounder from Marlon Byrd, and the Pirates turned the double play and ended it.

The Pirates were lucky to have won this game after getting no extra-base hits and being struck out 12 times by Matt Garza, who pitched much better than Ohlendorf. 13 strikeouts and one walk from the hitters just isn't a recipe for long-term success. But getting 16 singles certainly helps, and there was a lot of pretty good situational hitting, as the Bucs did a nice job hitting behind runners at first. The Pirates escape Chicago with a 2-1 record; the Cardinals await.

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