Ross Ohlendorf posted his first quality start of the season this afternoon, and though he only struck out three while walking three, his stuff looked pretty good throughout, and he left the game in the seventh with only one run on the board, though a runner he was responsible for ended up scoring. And so, after building up a 3-1 lead through six and a half, the Pirates were undone in the late innings by a subpar outing by Evan Meek and by poor defense.
I watched the Cubs broadcasts throughout this series and it was interesting to hear the way the Chicago announcers talked about the Pirates' bullpen--they really did not like having to face Joel Hanrahan, Octavio Dotel and particularly Meek, who was throwing some serious gas earlier in the series. Today, though, his velocity was a little lower than earlier this weekend (his fastball came in around 94 or so) and he had a bit of trouble locating his pitches. He was spared a disaster inning by Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Church, who each made a diving catch to record the first two outs in the seventh, but ironically, the defense ended up hurting Meek as well. Throughout the game, Ryan Doumit did a terrible job blocking pitches--he was stabbing at them rather than getting his body in front of them--and in the seventh Mike Fontenot came home on a wild pitch. Then Ronny Cedeno was charged with an error on a ball hit up the middle by Starlin Castro, which allowed Derrek Lee to come to the plate and single home another run. After yet another wild pitch, the Cubs scored the winning run in the eighth on an RBI single by Xavier Nady.
There were a few good things about this game--Ohlendorf's performance was fine, which is nice to see as he returns from injury. It's cool that the Pirates finally have a bullpen strong enough for other teams to fear. And Steve Pearce is, actually, a beast of a defensive first baseman. The reason I'm calling attention to it now is because of a terrific catch he made today while almost falling into the dugout, but really it's been every game. He's extremely athletic for a first baseman and he goes out of his way to get to the ball on plays where it's not clear who bears responsibility. He makes all the routine plays and a lot of the tougher ones. If he can combine that with some decent offense, it might be his ticket to a Lyle Overbay-type career.
Some notable stuff from the minors: Josh Harrison has three hits so far for Altoona. Jeff Locke picked up a win today for Bradenton, striking out five while walking none; Eric Fryer hit a three-run homer that accounted for all of the Marauders' scoring. And West Virginia won, with Jarek Cunningham hitting a double and a homer and Rogelios Noris picking up three hits. The most important detail there, though, was that 2009 supplemental pick Victor Black finally made his season debut after missing the first six weeks due to injury. He allowed three runs in four innings, but probably more importantly, he struck out seven batters while walking two, which suggests he's going to be just fine.