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Pirates 10, Braves 0; Pirates 3, Braves 0

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This was a pair of extremely nice games for the Pirates even though they were facing a depleted Braves team that was missing Chipper Jones and Yunel Escobar. Paul Maholm shut Atlanta down on Friday and Ian Snell did it on Saturday, although neither were dominant--Maholm had only two strikeouts and Snell only three. Behind them, John Grabow, Matt Capps, Sean Burnett and Jesse Chavez all pitched scoreless innings. Chavez was fun to watch--his fastball ran as high as 97, and he kept the ball in the zone and struck out Brian McCann with a breaking ball. 

Offensively, Craig Monroe had a huge day on Saturday, hitting two three-run homers. In front of him, Freddy Sanchez and Nate McLouth had two hits each and Ryan Doumit had three (all of them doubles). McLouth, by the way, is now hitting .268/.388/.488, so I'm pretty sure those who were worried about him can breathe easy.

Perhaps the most pleasant development of the last two days, though, is that Andy LaRoche has really looked like a big leaguer. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI on Friday, then went 3-for-4 with two doubles today. He also turned double plays both days. He's still hitting just .192/.250/.269, but he looks much better than he did a few days ago.