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Pirates 12, Reds 2: Bucs Escape Cellar

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The Pirates' 12-2 victory over the Reds today drops Cincinnati to last place and bumps the Pirates up to fifth. Everyone in the Bucs' lineup contributed--Ryan Doumit and Garrett Jones both had three hits to lead the team, but Lastings Milledge also had two hits (plus a great diving catch), Andrew McCutchen reached base three times, and everyone else in the starting lineup reached at least once. The Bucs got some help from Reds pitchers Justin Lehr and Danny Herrera, who both struggled to find the strike zone.

Zach Duke pitched seven strong innings for the win, and Phil Dumatrait pitched a scoreless eighth in his 2009 debut.

The Pirates could give fifth place right back in tomorrow's game, but the pitching matchup features Kevin Hart against Homer Bailey, who has a 7.53 ERA so far this year and hasn't had a decent start since late July. I like the Bucs' chances.

It's partly just an accident of timing and luck, but it's been really nice for the Pirates to be facing bad baseball teams rather than playing bad baseball themselves. Both the Reds this series and the Brewers last series have been loaded with dubious prospects (Adam Rosales, Wladimir Balentien, Chris Dickerson and Paul Janish for the Reds; Casey McGehee for the Brewers) and outright journeymen (Jonny Gomes, Laynce Nix and Ryan Hanigan for the Reds; Mike Rivera and Jason Bourgeois for the Brew Crew). I liked both these teams before the season, but they've been torn apart by disappointing performances and injuries. Of course the Pirates' roster is filled with dubious prospects too, but at least they're good enough to take on patchwork clubs like the Reds and Brewers, and there are many of that type in the National League. (I went to a Marlins/Padres game a couple of weeks ago and was stunned by the number of AAA players I had paid to watch, and the Marlins aren't even one of the N.L.'s worse teams.) And most of those have worse farm systems than the Pirates do. Maybe the thin air up here in fifth place is making me dizzy, but I still like watching this team.