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Pirates 3, Braves 1: James McDonald, Chris Resop Come Up Big As Bucs Keep Pace

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The Pirates kept pace with the Cardinals with a big 3-1 over the Braves. James McDonald got through 5.1 innings and was great, striking out nine, but he allowed two singles in the sixth, and then a catcher's interference call against Michael McKenry loaded the bases. (McKenry got hit in the hand with a bat, and McDonald was none too happy about his having to leave the game - I can't remember the last time I've seen so many mouthed F-words from the Pirates in so short a span.) 

Chris Resop came on, however, and was awesome, getting a pop-up from Nate McLouth (who I was happy to see come up in that situation) and a strikeout by Alex Gonzalez to get out of it. (The McLouth popup was dramatic - the ball had all kinds of English on it, and McKenry had to do a ballet move to get to it.) The Braves scored in the eighth on a solo homer by Chipper Jones, but after Daniel McCutchen walked Freddie Freeman, the Bucs brought in Jose Veras, who struck out Brian McCann and got another popup from McLouth. Joel Hanrahan then breezed through the ninth.

Offensively, Pedro Alvarez walked and singled in his return. He also had an error, waved at strike three on a pitch in the dirt in his third plate appearance, and swung at ball four in his fourth, but hey - at least he was productive.

The Cardinals beat the Astros and the Brewers were off, so the Pirates and Cardinals are now tied atop the NL Central, with Milwaukee a half-game back.