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Pirates Defeat Dan Haren, Diamondbacks

As someone pointed out in the comments, the Pirates tonight followed the pattern so often have the past couple years. Pit them against a bad starter like Rodrigo Lopez and they're dead; pit them against a very good one like Dan Haren, and they have no particular trouble. The Bucs scored off of Haren in both the first and the second innings--their run in the second came on a Jeff Clement blast that took about a half second to clear the fence. Throughout those two innings, it looked like the Pirates were sitting on Haren's fastballs and hitting them hard. Haren appeared to get back on track in the third, throwing splitters that seemed to confound the Pirates, but they got to him again in the fourth, with an RBI double by Ronny Cedeno and a two-run homer by Akinori Iwamura

As for Bucs starter Zach Duke, I hardly noticed him, which I think is good. He didn't allow a run until the seventh, when Mark Reynolds hit a ridiculous no-doubt two-run homer. Before that, Duke benefited from some solid infield defense, as the Pirates put together two double plays.

In the eighth, Jack Taschner and then Brendan Donnelly struggled mightily to throw strikes--they allowed a couple of walks and three baserunners despite being the beneficiaries of some borderline inside strike calls by the home-plate umpire. With the bases loaded, Donnelly got Tony Abreu to line out to center, but then Andrew McCutchen airmailed his throw back to the infield, allowing all three runners to move up. Donnelly, who'd been struggling both with the signs from Ryan Doumit and with his control, then miraculously struck out Justin Upton. Javier Lopez came on and struck out Adam LaRoche to end the inning. It looked like the Pirates would blow the lead there for a while, but when the dust settled they were still up three runs. Octavio Dotel got through the ninth without incident.

In the minors tonight, Brandon Moss went 3-for-5 with a homer for Indianapolis. Tim Alderson pitched five scoreless innings in Altoona's 1-0 shutout of Harrisburg. Unfortunately, Alderson's velocity was all the way down in the mid-80s. Stephen Strasburg starts against the Curve tomorrow.

Bradenton came from behind to defeat Fort Myers, and surprisingly, it looks like Gift Ngoepe is playing for the Marauders. (Ngoepe played only in rookie ball last year, and it's strange to see him all the way up in Class A+. It looks like Brock Holt, who's supposed to be one of Bradenton's regular middle infielders, must be hurt, and maybe they're just using Ngoepe as a sub until he gets back.) West Virginia lost to Savannah, and they've scored only three runs total in their first three games.

And around the league, the Astros are 0-5, C.C. Sabathia still rules, and the Dodgersbullpen is still bad