PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 05: James McDonald #53 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Houston Astros during the game on September 5, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The Pirates got a rare 7.1-inning start from James McDonald this afternoon, and they made the most of it. It was depressing to see McDonald walk opposing starter Henry Sosa in the third, and then to see Sosa score on a triple to the right-field wall by Jose Altuve. (McDonald then himself walked to start the bottom of the inning, but got doubled off on a line drive by Alex Presley.) But the Pirates took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Ryan Doumit doubled in Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison knocked in Derrek Lee. Harrison reached second on the play despite an awful baserunning decision on his part, but it turned out to be moot - he was stranded with McDonald grounded into a double play later in the inning.
Jordan Schafer made it to third with one out in the sixth, but Neil Walker helped preserve the lead when he threw home to nab Schafer on a groundout by J.D. Martinez. (Walker himself had been thrown out between third and home when he too tried to come home on a rundown, so hey - redemption.) Derrek Lee added a solo homer in the eighth, and Joel Hanrahan shut the door despite a messy ninth.