The Pirates opened their 11-game homestand, their longest of the season, with a 4-0 win tonight at PNC Park.
Erik Bedard got the start after being pushed back to allow A.J. Burnett to pitch Sunday against Cincinnati. Bedard was not very good in four of his five starts before the All-Star break and he got bombed by the Cubs in the fourth inning of his last start. However, he did make some mechanical adjustments during the break, and in his other two starts he went 13.2 innings with two earned runs and 15 strikeouts. Even in the last Cubs start he looked good early.
Tonight he was excellent. He gave up a leadoff double to Paul Goldschmidt in the second and then retired 17 in a row before Goldschmidt singled to left with two outs in the seventh. (Burnett retired 18 Reds in a row yesterday, I'm guessing the last time starters on the same team each retired 17 in a row in consecutive games was a long time ago.) It looked like Goldschmidt didn't have much of a scouting report on Starling Marte's arm, because he tried to stretch it into a double. Marte delivered a laser on the fly that poisoned the poor Snake by 10 feet.
The Pirates got their first run in the fourth. Andrew McCutchen opened with a bloop single to center. Diamondbacks CF Chris Young jogged in to field it and then mishandled the bounce. Cutch initially thought about going to second, but checked up. However when Young casually turned around to get the ball the MVP bolted for second. A good throw gets Cutch by a step, but Young bounced it into the bag and it skipped about ten feet away from shortstop Willie Bloomquist. That was all Cutch needed as he slid headfirst into third without a throw. And of course flashed the Zoltan to the dugout. Gaby Sanchez grounded to short. 1-0 Pirates.
The Pirates squandered a chance to add to the lead in the fifth. Rod Barajas led off with a single to left and Clint Barmes followed by roping a double off the wall in left-center to put runners on second and third. However Erik Bedard grounded to short with the infield in and, after Starling Marte's first career walk, Josh Harrison grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. (Apparently Hurdle was playing Harrison for the third day in a row, and batting him second, because of his defense and hot bat. A few of us on Twitter had an animated exchange discussing the merits of that move. I'm guessing you know where I stood on the matter. It is worth noting Harrison made two good defensive plays, but went 0-for-4 with five left on base.)
Arizona starter Wade Miley was nearly Bedard's equal. He went six innings with one unearned run, two strikeouts and one walk before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh after throwing 112 pitches.
The Pirates added to their lead in the eighth with the new guys getting involved. (It was the first home game for five different Pirates tonight.) McCutchen singled with one out, and with Cutch on the move, Gaby Sanchez singled through the hole to right. Neil Walker drove in one run on a soft grounder to short that Bloomquist couldn't handle and Travis Snider followed with an RBI single in his first PNC Park at bat to make it 3-0. A sacrifice fly by Rod Barajas pushed across the final run.
Jeff Karstens will look to make it three in a row tomorrow. The Reds lost to the Brewers 6-3 while the Cardinals beat the Giants 8-2. Going into Tuesday, the Pirates are 3.5 behind the Reds and the Cards are six back.