Braves 4, Pirates 2: Offense Vanishes Again As Pirates Blow It In 11 Innings

PITTSBURGH - MAY 25: James McDonald #53 of the Pittsburgh Pirates watches the game from the dugout against the Atlanta Braves during the game on May 25, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

This was a really frustrating game, and it's amazing the Pirates stayed in it as long as it did. The offense, as usual, did very little, although it at least got nine hits this time, as opposed to four or five. After an RBI single by Chipper Jones in the first, the Bucs tied things up with an RBI single by Steve Pearce in the third. In the sixth, Eric Hinske hit a towering home run to right, then stood there admiring it as it nearly left the stadium. Pearce tied the game in the seventh with a solo homer off Eric O'Flaherty.

The Bucs had a glorious chance to win the game in the ninth, but they blew it. Lyle Overbay led off with a walk, and then Pedro Ciriaco pinch-ran for him. Ronny Cedeno then hit an easy grounder, but a error by the Braves' middle infield meant both runners were safe. Chris Snyder then had a great bunt to move the runners to second and third with one out. (And that's the kind of bunt I'll never get on Clint Hurdle's case for, obviously, since it makes sense to play for one run there and you don't want Snyder hitting into a double play.) The Braves intentionally walked Jose Tabata, which brought up Pearce, who had been the hero to that point, but Pearce then grounded into a double play, third to home to first. Ugh.

The Bucs brought in Jeff Karstens to pitch in extra innings (they have another day off tomorrow, so they can afford to do that), but Karstens gave up a two-run shot by Brooks Conrad in the 11th to seal it.

It was a nice game by the Pirates' pitchers, at least - James McDonald struck out six in six innings and might have given up only one run - after Jordan Schafer's double to lead off the game, neither of the other hits against McDonald in the first were sharp. McDonald looks like he's very clearly back on track now. And Dan McCutchen, Jose Veras and Joel Hanrahan all pitched scoreless innings out of the 'pen - not that we really expect anything less, at this point.

Unfortunately, the Pirates still haven't figured out ways to score. Neil Walker has vanished almost completely in May. So has Garrett Jones. Jose Tabata had been MIA for weeks before a string of multi-hit games in the past week. Pearce's hitting today aside, nobody on the bench has done much at all, just like last year, and those wasted bench at-bats really add up. The overwhelming majority of the offense this month has come from Ronny Cedeno, Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Doumit, and three guys can't really get the job done. No matter how well the pitching is doing, it's hard to feel confident when you know inning after inning will go by with no sign of offense anywhere.

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