Wins For Ascanio And Ledezma, Loss For Nieve

Looking in on Pirates’ players and friend in Monday’s winter league action:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Leones del Caracas  6,  Cardenales de Lara  5  —  
Two runs in the bottom of the 9th gave Los Leones and Jose Ascanio the win.  Los Cardenales were leading 5-4 in the top of the 8th, when Ascanio came in from the bullpen with one out and a runner on first base.  Ascanio’s catcher picked the runner off first base, recorded as a caught stealing, then Ascanio got a ground out to end the inning.  He gave up a single in the top of the 9th, but kept Los Cardenales from scoring.  Then in the bottom of the 9th, with Ray Sadler coming in to play center field for Lara, Los Leones eked out a single and a walk.  A passed ball on ball four put runners on the corners for Los Leones.  A single into center field drove n the run from third, for the walk-off win.  Ascanio was the pitcher of record, so was credited with his first Venezuelan League win.  

Bravos de Margarita  4,  Caribes de Anzoategui  0  —  LF Jose Tabata went 0-for-3 with a walk for Los Caribes, who recorded 8 hits, but could not push any of their base runners across the plate.  They left a total of 11 runners on base and were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  Los Bravos scored 3 runs in the 5th, on a double, two singles, a walk, and a fielding error.  A solo homer added a fourth run in the 6th.  Jhonathan Ramos came on to pitch for Margarita in the 7th, with two outs.  He loaded the bases with a single and two walks, then was relieved, but due to Los Caribes’ lack of luck, another reliever got Tabata to fly out to end the inning, leaving three runners on base.

Aguilas de Zulia  6,  Navegantes del Magallanes  3  —  Fernando Nieve struggled through 2.2 innings and was eventually charged with the loss for Magallanes.  He gave up a solo homer to the second batter of the game, then gave up two runs in the 2nd on two singles and a double.  Three singles and a double steal brought in two more runs for Zulia in the 3rd, and that was all for Nieve — 5 runs on 8 hits, no walks, with 4 strikeouts.  Two more singles added another run for Los Aguilas in the top of the 7th.  Los Navegantes started their scoring in the bottom of the 7th.  Former Pirate farmhand JR House, who made the jump over from the Dominican League, came into the game as a pinch-runner after a 2-out single.  A walk and an RBI single allowed House to score Magallanes’ first run.  House remained in the game to play first base, and he flied out in the 9th.  A walk, a double, and a fielding error gave Los Navegantes 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th.  

Tigres de Aragua  7,  Tiburones de La Guaira  3  —  Wil Ledezma also earned his first Venezuelan League win with 1.2 hitless and scoreless innings of work.  Los Tigres started scoring in the bottom of the 1st, when SS Ronny Cedeno reached base on a fielding error, then scored on a double.  C Raul Chavez blasted a 2-run homer in the 2nd, to give Aragua a 3-0 lead.  Los Tiburones scored 2 runs in the top of the 3rd on three singles and two walks, then tied the score in the top of the 4th on a double, a bunt, and an RBI ground out.  Ledezma came in from the bullpen in the 4th, and ended the 4th, then retired the side in order in the 5th.  He was still the pitcher of record when Los Tigres scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 5th.  Chavez walked, and moved to second base on CF Jorge Cortes’ sacrifice bunt.  Cedeno singled, putting runners on the corners, then a sacrifice fly plated Chavez.  A 2-run homer by DH Wilson Ramos brought in Cedeno.  1B Hector Gimenez also doubled after the homer.  Three walks, including one by Gimenez, and a wild pitch gave Los Tigres an insurance run in the 8th.  

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Big Day For Milledge, Cortes, And Tabata; Loss For Ascanio

Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Sunday’s winter league action…
The Dominican League’s last regular season games will be on Tuesday. 

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE 
Tigres de Aragua  8,  Leones de Caracas  3  (Game 1) —  
Los Tigres won this battle of the big cats with a 6-run 3rd inning.  CF Jorge Cortes led off the inning with a single, was bunted to second base, and scored on an RBI single.  SS Ronny Cedeno lined out, but the next two batters singled, driving in a run.  1B Hector Gimenez was hit by a pitch, then LF Lastings Milledge brought in two runs with his RBI single.  A triple added two more runs.  Cortes walked in his second at-bat in the inning, but a fly out ended the rally.  Los Tigres added another run in the 5th on a single, Gimenez’s ground rule double, and Milledge’s sacrifice fly — his third RBI of the game.  Milledge singled again in a rally in the 7th, when Aragua slipped in their 8th run.  Caracas did all their scoring in the bottom of the 7th, leading off the inning with two singles and a 3-run homer.  

Tigres  6,  Leones  5  (Game 2)  —  It was Cortes who had 3 hits in the night-cap, while Cedeno, Gimenez, and C Raul Chavez were hitless.  Wil Ledezma made the start for Los Tigres, and pitched 2 innings, allowing a run in the 1st.  Aragua tied the score in the 2nd with a walk, a single by Milledge, and an RBI single by Cortes.  Ledezma was relieved to begin the 3rd, and that was when Caracas scored 2 more runs on a walk, a single, and a triple.  Another triple and a sacrifice fly gave Los Leones a 4-1 lead in the 5th.  Los Tigres came roaring back in the top of the 6th, to take the lead.  The inning began with 3 consecutive walks, including on Milledge and Gimenez.  A triple cleared the bases, then Cortes’ double gave Aragua a 5-4 lead.  Another single and a walk loaded the bases for Aragua, but a double play ended the inning and the rally.  Caracas tied the score again in the bottom of the 7th, sending the game into extra innings.  Jose Ascanio took the mound for Caracas in the top of the 7th, when he retired the side in order.  In the bottom of the 8th, pinch-hitter Miguel Perez led off with a single, and Cortes bunted him to second base.  A single drove in the speedy Perez from second base with the go-ahead run.

Navegantes del Magallanes  8,  Tiburones de La Guaira  2  —  Los Tiburones had the early lead, but Los Navegantes scored 7 of their runs in the final three innings, including a 4-run 8th.  Jean Machi earned his 7th save with 1.1 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.

Caribes de Anzoategui  8,  Cardenales de Lara  7  (Game 1)  —  Six runs in the 2nd inning gave Los Caribes enough runs to outlast Lara’s late-inning rallies.  DH Jose Tabata singled and scored on a 2-run homer in the top of the 1st.  Los Cardenales got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning, but Los Caribes had their big 2nd inning.  With one out, a walk and four straight singles, including Tabata’s second single, brought in two runs, then a grand slam by LF Juan Camacho gave Los Caribes an 8-1 lead.  

Caribes  4,  Cardenales  2  (Game 2) —  Four runs in the 6th inning gave Los Caribes what they needed.  The inning began with a double and a single, then Jose Tabata lined another single into center field, bringing in one run.  Three more singles and a sacrifice fly added 3 more runs.  Los Cardenales scored one run in the 2nd on a walk, a single, and an RBI ground out.  A double, a wild pitch, and a single gave Lara their second run in the 4th.  CF Ray Sadler went 0-for-3 for Lara.

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Many Familiar Winter League Pitchers

Lots of Pirates and former Pirates pitching in Friday’s winter league action… This is the last week of regular season play for the Dominican and Puerto Rican leagues.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Caribes de Anzoategui  8,  Tiburones de La Guaira  5  — (Game 1) 
A 5-run 6th inning gave Los Caribes the edge in the first game of the double header.  Los Caribes started the game with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on a single, a walk by DH Jose Tabata, and a 3-run homer.  The 6th inning began with a double, a hit batter, and a walk to load the bases.  Two sacrifice flies, an RBI single, and a sacrifice bunt aided by a throwing error by Los Tiburones’ pitcher added four more runs.  Tabata also singled in the inning.  La Guaira scored 2 runs in the 4th and rallied for 3 in the bottom of the 7th, but could not catch up.

Tiburones   9,  Caribes  2  — (Game 2)  Ryan Vogelsong earned his 6th win for Los Tiburones.  He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk over 6 innings.  Tabata did not get into the night-cap.

Leones de Caracas  6,  Aguilas de Zulia  2  —  Another former Pirate pitcher earned the win —  Ronald Uviedo also pitched 6 innings and allowed 2 runs.  He gave up 8 hits and a walk.  Los Leones scored one run in the 1st, two in the 2nd, and 3 in the 5th.  C Carlos Maldonado singled twice and walked, and scored one run.  

Bravos de Margarita  9,  Cardenales de Lara  —  Both teams put up big innings and posted a total of 12 hits each.  Lara had a 5-run 3rd inning, which began with CF Ray Sadler  being hit by a pitch.  Three singles and a throwing error brought in 2 runs, a sacrifice fly plated a third run, and a 2-run homer made it 5 runs.  Three consecutive doubles, including one by Sadler, plus a sacrifice fly gave Los Cardenales 3 runs in the 4th.  Los Bravos began their scoring with a run in the 2nd, then 3 runs in the 3rd on three singles, an error, and a wild pitch.  They added 4 more in the next inning, on three singles and three walks.  After the bottom of the 4th, the score was tied at 8-8.  Los Bravos scored what would turn out to be the winning run in the top of the 5th, on a walk, a double, and an RBI ground out.  Romulo Sanchez pitched to three batters and got three outs in the top of the 9th for Los Cardenales.  Anthony Claggett took the mound for Los Bravos in the bottom of the 6th, with two on and one out.  He got two outs to end the inning, then pitched the next two innings, allowing only one walk, no hits, with three strikeouts.  Ronald Belisario earned his 14th save with a scoreless 9th inning for Los Bravos.  

Tigres de Aragua  7,  Navegantes del Magallanes  5  —  New Pirate Fernando Nieve made the start for Los Navegantes and pitched 4.2 innings, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks.  A double and an RBI single by CF Jorge Cortes gave Los Tigres their first run in the 2nd inning.  Nieve gave up a 2-run homer to 1B Hector Gimenez in the 3rd inning.  Gimenez got to him again in the 5th, with an RBI single that followed a lead-off double.  Los Tigres scored 3 more runs after Nieve departed.  Cortes walked to lead off the 6th, then scored on a bunt and an RBI single.  Two runs scored in the 7th.  A double, Gimenez’s third hit of the game, a wild pitch, and LF Lasting Milledge’s sacrifice fly plated the runs.  Los Navegantes also scored one run in the 2nd inning, when LF Mike Ryan led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a throwing error.  Magallanes scored 3 runs in the 5th, on a pair of singles, a double, and a fielding error by Milledge.  Reliever Wil Ledezma took the mound in relief for Aragua after those three runs had scored, and he worked around another error to get two outs and prevent further runs from scoring.  

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A Loss For Valdez

The MLB Winter Meetings are over…. back to the winter league action, as we cheer on some new Pirates’ players.

DOMINICAN LEAGUE
Leones del Escogido  3,  Tigres del Licey  0  —  
New Pirate Caesar Valdez (just acquired from the Diamondbacks as the player-to-be-named-later in the Zach Duke trade) made his 8th start for Licey, but did not get out of the 3rd inning as he suffered his 2nd loss of the season.  Valdez had no trouble in his first inning of work, then gave up a solo home run in the 2nd inning.  He put out the first two batters in the 3rd inning, then gave up three consecutive singles for a run, plus a walk.  Valdez was relieved at that point, with no more runs scoring in the inning.  Los Leones did score one more run in the 5th.  Los Tigres were held to just 4 hits, including one by Indy area native 1B Jake Fox.  3B Andy Marte and C Robinzon Diaz were both hitless in the game.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Bravos de Margarita  5,  Cardenales de Lara  4  —  
Los Cardenales tied the score at 4-4 in the top of the 8th on a pair of doubles.  The winning run scored in the bottom of the 9th, when two walks and a hit batter put three Bravos on base.  Another walk forced in the winning run.  Romulo Sanchez pitched to 4 Margarita batters and made 4 outs, finishing the 6th inning for Lara and then pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th.  Jhonathan Ramos pitched a scoreless 6th inning for Margarita.  He allowed a double and a walk, with 2 strikeouts. 

Tigres de Aragua  6,  Navegantes de Magallanes  4  —  A game full of Pirates.  Los Tigres posted a pair of 2-run homers in the 5th inning, on their way to 13 total hits.  Every member of the lineup except for C Raul Chavez had at least one hit.  SS Ronny Cedeno, 1B Hector Gimenez, LF Lastings Milledge, and CF Jorge Cortes each had one run.  Wil Ledezma pitched one inning for Los Tigres.  He entered the game in the 7th inning, and was responsible for one run on a solo homer.  Then he began the 8th inning, when he allowed two more runs to score.  Corey Hamman pitched in the top of the 9th for Los Navegantes.  He gave up a single and a pair of intentional walks, but ended the inning and the game without any of those runners scoring.  

Tiburones de La Guaira  5,  Caribes de Anzoategui   3  —  In his second Venezuelan League game, LF Jose Tabata walked and singled for Los Caribes.  He singled in the bottom of the 1st, moving another runner to third base, and that runner came around to score, for 2 runs in the 1st.  Los Tiburones tied the score with 2 runs in the 3rd inning.  They took the lead with a run in the 6th, and Los Caribes tied the score again in the bottom of the 7th, on a walk and two singles.  The game went into extras, and in the top of the 10th, Los Tiburones scored the winning and insurance runs on a 2-run homer.  

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Roster Moves and Winter Leagues: Rough Night For Morton And Hamman

A few roster moves by the Pirates today:

Several players have been removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to AAA Indianapolis:� LHP Justin Thomas, RHP Sean Gallagher, RHP Steven Jackson, 1B Jeff Clement, and OF Brandon Moss.

Of these, Thomas, Jackson, and Moss are now all free to declare themselves minor league free agents.� Clement does not have enough service time to get to be a free agent, so he’s “stuck” on the Indianapolis roster.� He’s had knee surgery, and hopes to be ready by spring training.� Gallagher does have the service time, but the Pirates are probably negotiating with him to try to keep him.

LHP Wil Ledezma has signed a one-year contract with the Pirates for 2011.

RHP Jose Ascanio and 1B Steve Pearce (who has also had knee issues) are officially off the DL and back on the 40-man roster.� RHP Ross Ohlendorf also falls into this category.

On to Wednesday’s winter league action, with Pirates’ players and friends:

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE

Senadores de San Juan� 4,� Gigantes de Carolina� 3� — San Juan rallied from a 3-1 deficit to score one run in the 5th and 2 runs in the 6th for the win.� Los Gigantes scored one run in the 4th on a double and a single.� They added 2 runs in the 5th, on two singles, an error, a walk, and a sacrifice fly.� Benji Gonzalez made a pinch-hitting appearance for Los Gigantes in the 8th inning, but flied out.� He remained in the game at third base for the final inning.

Criollos de Caguas� 4,� Indios de Mayaguez� 0� — 3B Ramon Vazquez and SS Luis Figueroa each had one hit for Los Criollos in their win.� Vazquez’s single in the 5th drove in one of Los Criollos’ runs.� They also scored 2 runs in the 4th on two singles and two errors, and another run in the 6th on two singles and a sacrifice fly.

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