The Pirates made good use of limited scoring opportunities and James McDonald was blazing as the pitchers held Atlanta to a single run. The Pirates remain in first by percentage points over the Cardinals and picked up a game on the Braves in the Wild Card standings. Really impressive win on national television with the Pirates running aggressively and pitching well.
After the game was delayed over two hours by rain, Atlanta starter Tim Hudson came out firing. He struck out the side in the first. Pittsburgh used some wildness from Hudson to put two runs on the board in the second inning. Andrew McCutchen and the recently recalled Pedro Alvarez both walked to start the inning. Lyle Overbay’s fly ball moved both runners up one base. Ronny Cedeno grounded out to score Cutch. Michael McKenry came up with the clutch two out hit to score Alvarez and make it 2-0.
The Pirates added another run in the sixth. Garrett Jones walked with one out. With the hit-and-run on, the Braves either stole the sign or guessed right. They pitched out and Neil Walker reached across the plate to tap the ball down the third base line. That saved Jones as he cruised safely into second while Walker was retired at first. McCutchen followed with a two out single to bring Jones in with the third run of the game.
It would be inaccurate to say McDonald was breezing through the lineup. He gave up plenty of hits, but set a career high in strikeouts with nine. He was working quick, often ready to attack the zone while Braves hitters backed out of the box. Atlanta stranded a pair in the second when he struck out Alex Gonzalez to end the side. The Braves singled three times in the third but didn’t score. Hudson and Martin Prado singled to start the inning. But the Pirates doubled off Hudson when Jason Heyward lined out to Neil Walker. Chipper Jones – fresh off the DL – singled, but it did no harm as Freddie Freeman went down swinging to end the inning.
McDonald loaded the bases with one out in the sixth. Freeman and Dan Uggla singled. Former Pirate David Ross reached on a catcher’s interference. McDonald was pulled for former Brave Chris Resop. He got former Pirate Nate McLouth to pop out and then whiffed Alex Gonzalez to end the inning.
Daniel McCutchen pitched a perfect seventh. He allowed a lead off homer to Chipper Jones in the eighth and a walk to Freeman and gave way to Jose Veras. Three straight Braves – each of them the tying run – were set down by Veras in the eighth. Joel Hanrahan tossed a perfect ninth to end it.
McDonald gave up no runs in 5-1/3 innings. He allowed eight singles and no walks while striking out those nine hitters. Hudson was the loser. He gave up five singles and three walks in seven innings. He was charged with all three Pirate runs and struck out eight.
McDonald pitching out of jams.
Making things happen on the bases.
Welcome back, Pedro Alvarez. He was 1-3 with a walk and a run scored. Please, please get hot.
Pittsburgh managed only five singles.
McDonald is 2-0 against Atlanta. Hudson falls to 5-5 against Pittsburgh.
Hudson is third on the active career wins list behind Tim Wakefield and Roy Halladay.
Since starting the year 0-2 in his first four starts, McDonald has gone 7-2 with a 2.68 ERA. In that span he has struck out 82 in 90-2/3 innings over the course of 16 starts.
Chipper Jones came into the game with 16 career homers against Pittsburgh. That’s second fewest among National League clubs to the Diamondbacks who were born several years into Jones’ career.
Pirate pitchers recorded 14 whiffs. That’s just the eleventh time in 2011 they have hit double figures. It is just the seventh time they have done so in a nine inning game, with 14 strikeouts marking a season high in a regulation contest.
Does anyone here know why Sean McDonough seems to constantly rag on Aaron Boone? It was to the point of distraction last night, especially when they started talking about Boone doing play-by-play and carried over into the next inning. I don’t get it. Boone came across to me as a genuinely good guy. I have never had an issue with McDonough’s work before. If they are trying to be funny, it isn’t working. If there is genuine discontent on McDonough’s part, someone higher up needs to tell him to stick a cork in it and act professionally because he comes across as a jerk.