This game started swimmingly, with Paul Maholm racking up one- and two-pitch outs against the weak-hitting Nationals. The Bucs grabbed three quick runs in the first inning after an RBI groundout by Freddy Sanchez and a two-run jack by Ryan Doumit. The Bucs even caught quite a break -- Jason Bay was out by a mile on a groundball, but the first base ump called him safe, and he came around to score on the Doumit homer.
In the fifth, Ronnie Belliard hit a solo homer, and Bob Walk made the perfectly innocent and (I thought) astute comment that a pitcher like Maholm shouldn't worry too much about solo homers, because what really hurts are big innings. Sure enough, the Nationals reeled off three solo homers off Maholm in the seventh to tie the score at 4-4.
The Bucs managed to retake the lead, though, on an RBI single by Xavier Nady. They still lost, though, as Matt Capps allowed a two-run homer to Lastings Milledge and blew a save for the first time since September 19 of last year.
The game narrative doesn't really fit this particular story very well, but the game Doumit had was just amazing -- he had two homers and two doubles. That probably won't make him the lead story on Baseball Tonight, but that's two total bases better than hitting for the cycle. The game he had showed why he's such a great fit for PNC, too -- he didn't even get great wood on his first homer. It was just a long fly ball that went into the right field seats. Well, five or six rows into the right field seats, but I'm not sure that ball would have left some ballparks.
Some commenters in the gamethread were complaining about Adam LaRoche, who went 0-for-4 and left three men on base tonight. I've mostly kept my mouth shut about LaRoche, but I may have to join the chorus soon. LaRoche entered this game hitting .221/.299/.364. That's like a bad Jack Wilson season. It's mid-June, and we're waiting and waiting on LaRoche, who now has a career .812 OPS. That's nothing special for a corner infielder, and it's reaching the point where the Pirates' patience with him should be waning. It's not even about his trade value anymore, really; he doesn't have any, and he'd have to go on one heck of a tear for the Pirates to get anything for him by the deadline. It may be Steve Pearce time here pretty soon.