Well, that was more exciting than it needed to be. The Pirates grabbed a 4-0 lead in the first inning on two-run homers by Garrett Jones and Chris Snyder, and it looked like it would be smooth sailing from there. Jones' homer was really impressive - he pulled an inside fastball and hit it an obscenely long way. Snyder's came on a high fastball. Jones had a great game, also nailing a tagging Brad Hawpe with a throw from the outfield in the fifth.
James McDonald did well, picking up five strikeouts in six innings; his only costly mistake was leaving a fastball up to Jorge Cantu, who crushed a two-run homer in the sixth.
After that, things only got more nerve-racking. The Bucs had chased Aaron Harang after five innings, but the Padres replaced him with lefty Cory Luebke, who they left out there forever. It demonstrated how weak most of the Pirates' righty lineup is against lefties. Jones, in particular, for all his heroics, looked really awkward against Luebke. Someone pointed out a couple days ago that Lyle Overbay had an .800 OPS against righties (it's lower now), and that most of his struggles were the result of facing lefties. Well, fine, and the Pirates should be doing more to keep him out of games where there's a lefty starter. But you can't completely protect him from having to face lefties, because when one comes in in the middle innings, you still have to save bench players for situations that might come up later. Overbay is now 3-for-27 against lefties on the year.
As usual, Jose Veras was ridiculous, striking out two of the three batters he faced in the seventh. Ronny Cedeno was really annoying to watch, getting picked off and missing what looked like a routine grounder when he tried to barehand it. That led Chris Resop's eighth inning to be a lot more complicated than it might have been, costing the Pirates a run and nearly costing them the game. Then in the ninth inning, when Ernesto Frieri, and then Luke Gregerson, started walking the entire Pirates lineup, Cedeno inexplicably swung at a 3-1 pitch that was way out of the zone. Maybe the best way to describe whatever Cedeno's problem is is that he often looks a little like what you might expect Rinku Singh to look like if he were called up to the big leagues today, showing flashes of talent but making bizarre mental errors that look like they have to be the result of inexperience. Or like a precocious Little Leaguer who for some reason is subbing with the high school team.
Anyway, the Pirates had the chance to tack on some insurance runs in the ninth, when Frieri walked the first three batters and Gregerson walked the fourth. Unfortunately, the first batter was the slow-footed Overbay, and the second one was the contact-challenged Chris Snyder, so naturally Clint Hurdle put the hit-and-run on. That took Overbay off the bases when Frieri, who couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat today, completely missed the zone and Snyder, shockingly, completely missed the ball. One out. The Pirates loaded the bases - or, rather, Frieri and Gregerson did it for them - but Gregerson got Steve Pearce and Andrew McCutchen to end the threat. Joel Hanrahan shut things down in the ninth, though, and the Bucs won 4-3.