Tonight’s win was crazy, but it was a win nonetheless. It felt good to take a game in Philly. James McDonald pitched well; not perfectly, but he got the job done. Brad Lincoln was tonight’s savior out of the bullpen. Michael McKenry continued his offensive tear, going 2-4 with 4 RBIs. Offensively, he has more than filled in for Rod Barajas.
James McDonald pitched 5.2 innings, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks. He gave up 2 runs in the 1st inning but only allowed one Phillies batter to reach from the 2nd inning through the 5th. JMac left the game in the 6th after giving up 2 runs and leaving a runner on 1st. “McDonald didn’t have 2 of his best pitches tonight,” according to McKenry, “but he battled through.” JMac is now 7-3 with a 2.44 ERA.
Jared Hughes finished the 6th and started the 7th. He didn’t get out of it. An error by Pedro Alvarez and a triple by Jimmy Rollins closed the gap to 8-5, Pirates still on top. Tony Watson came in and, shockingly, couldn’t finish off the inning either. He gave up 2 runs and did not record an out. Hurdle turned to Brad Lincoln. Lincoln came in to face Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, and Jim Thome. He got them to strike out, fly out, and strike out, respectively. “Don’t try to strike out everybody,” was his plan. “Attack the zone, get ahead, and if you gotta put a guy away, put a guy away.” Hurdle said after the game, “[Lincoln] gives you that dynamic out of the bullpen. He just went right after him, quality pitches: live fastball, sharp breaking ball.” Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan secured the 11-7 win with a hitless 8th and 9th.
The Pirates’ offense tonight was a vast improvement over the past few games. The Fort wasn’t the only one to homer; Casey McGehee and Andrew McCutchen joined the party as well. Seven different Pirates had at least 1 RBI; even JMac drove in a run. The Buccos pounded out 14 hits, walked 6 times, and scored 11 runs. “I’m very proud of the way we responded,” Hurdle said after the game. “Offensively, we showed up.”
Cutch not only drove in 2 runs with his 8th-inning homer, he made a great catch on a fly ball almost out of his reach in the bottom of the 8th. Cutch was 2-5 tonight, and Hurdle said “he’s in a very good place as far as the game goes right now.”
Fort once again picked up his pitcher with an excellent offensive showing. He is 7-for-11 (.636) in the 3 games so far of this series against the Phillies with 2 homeruns and 6 RBIs. “I’m just doing whatever I can to help the team,” McKenry said. He’s said before that he looks up to Rod Barajas, and this series he’s doing quite a job filling Barajas’ shoes. “McKenry showed up when we needed him. That’s the beauty of this game: certain guys show up when you need them,” said Hurdle.
Both the Reds and Cardinals lost tonight, so at 39-35, the Pirates are tied for 2nd with the Cards, 2 games behind the Reds. The series concludes tomorrow afternoon with AJ Burnett on the mound.