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Pirates 8, Padres 3: Adam LaRoche Powers Pirates

The Bucs win again, this time behind seven strong innings from Ross Ohlendorf and two homers by Mr. Early Season himself, Adam LaRoche. The Bucs also got a couple hits apiece from Andy LaRoche (whose average is now all the way up to .264 and who now has a ten-game hitting streak going) and Nyjer Morgan, who also grabbed an HBP. (Morgan also ran his way into an out on the bases, however.) Everyone in the lineup except Ohlendorf got at least one hit. The Pirates were able to score seven runs despite not having Ryan Doumit, Nate McLouth, Freddy Sanchez or Jack Wilson in the lineup.

In a theme that's appeared throughout this young season, Ohlendorf produced a quality start despite only having two strikeouts in this afternoon. Entering today's game, the Bucs had just 88 strikeouts, last in the majors, to go with 62 walks. Despite this, they led the majors in ERA by a fair margin. 88 strikeouts against 62 walks isn't going to get the job done in the long term, so don't be surprised when the pitching takes a step backward, but I think some of the improvement here is legitimate.

Prior to today's game, only 11 teams had allowed fewer walks than the Bucs, and only two teams had allowed fewer homers. Last year the Pirates allowed more homers than all but six teams and more walks than all but one. So there have been enormous improvements so far in terms of getting the ball into the zone, and Ohlendorf, who now has just six walks in 25 innings after piling up 31 in 62.7 innings last year, is the poster child for those improvements. Without strikeouts, that won't produce a great pitching staff, but in a weak, no-DH league like this year's NL, it may be enough to make them a pretty good one.