Pirates 1, Reds 0: Bucs' Pitching Does It Again

PITTSBURGH - JULY 19: Michael McKenry #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates tags out Drew Stubbs #6 of the Cincinnati Reds at home plate after striking out during the game on July 19, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The offense didn't do much of anything, mustering only four hits in eight innings, and the Pirates ran into a couple of additional outs on the bases, as Xavier Paul and Alex Presley were caught stealing. (I can't fault Clint Hurdle much for trying to make things happen, but Ryan Hanigan has a good arm, so the chances the Pirates weren't necessarily the best ones.)

Still, though - great game. James McDonald had seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings, but left with an awful jam in the seventh, as he suddenly lost his ability to throw strikes and allowed a walk, an infield single and another walk, loading the bases with one out. This led to a funny scene in which the PNC crowd (another enthusiastic one) was on its feet cheering for him, and his teammates were giving him high fives, while he was ranting to himself and obviously pretty upset. Hurdle brought in Joe Beimel, who LOOGY'ed Jay Bruce to perfection, then brought in Chris Resop, who got Drew Stubbs to finish the job. Resop pitched the eighth, and then Joel Hanrahan finished things off in the ninth despite allowing two singles.

While I hate to take pleasure in the suffering of others, it was great to see Joey Votto so obviously upset with himself after striking out three times. And another nice thing about taking the first two from the Reds is that it bumps Cincinnati to five games out of first. The Reds are still in the race, but anything the Pirates can do to make this more of a three-team fight than a four-team fight increases their chances.

Scoreboard watch: the Cardinals lost 4-2 to the Mets, and the Brewers have an early lead on the Diamondbacks.

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