A game whose scoring started with so much promise – Pedro Alvarez’ first homer of the year – quickly turned into a disaster. Scott Cousins hit a grand slam in the second inning and Brett Hayes hit a three run bomb in the next inning as Florida clobbered James McDonald and the Pirates.
Alvarez’ tater came with two down in the second off Chris Volstad. The led didn’t last long. McDonald loaded the bases in the home half of the second by walking Gaby Sanchez, giving up a single to Greg Dobbs and walking Mike Stanton. Cousins was up next and he cleared the bases with a shot to right center. Florida loaded the bases a second time in the inning, but only scored once more on a Hanley Ramirez ground out.
More damage was done in the third. A walk to Stanton and a double by Cousins brought up Hayes and he poked one out to left to make it 8-1.
Alvarez doubled in the fifth and scored on a grounder from John Bowker. Michael Crotta was on in fifth in relief of McDonald and, suitably tired of walking, Stanton homered off him.
The Pirates got back into it in the next inning. Lyle Overbay singled with one out. Neil Walker and Garrett Jones walked. Exit Volstad. Enter Randy Choate. Alvarez singled, bringing in Overbay. Ryan Webb relieved Choate and gave up consecutive RBI at bats as Chris Snyder singled and Josh Rodriguez was plunked. The bases were loaded with one out. But pinch hitter Matt Diaz hit into a double play, ending the inning. Pittsburgh wouldn’t advance another runner past second base.
McDonald got nine outs while giving up eight runs. He allowed six hits and three walks. Volstad lasted 5-1/3. He gave up five runs on four hits and three walks. He whiffed five. Clay Hensley and former Pirate minor leaguer Leo Nunez each tossed a scoreless inning to end it.
Alvarez was a triple shy of the cycle. Hopefully this will get him going.
Daniel McCutchen has five straight scoreless appearances.
The Pirate bullpen contributed six innings of one run, three hit, five strikeout relief.
Over his last three starts McDonald has given up 19 earned runs in 14 innings pitched.
Alvarez’ most recent homer came in 10/1/10 against Florida’s Adalberto Mendez. His last three hit game was 4/3/11 and this was the ninth time he collected three or more hits in a game.
Rodriguez RBI was the first of his career.
Cousins and Hayes entered the game with one RBI between them in 2011 and contributed seven RBI in the game. Cousins homer was the first of his career.
The Pirates came into the game collectively 13-45 against Volstad. Florida was only 3-23 against McDonald.