Jeff Francouer delivered a two run single in the first and Casey Kotchman added another RBI knock later in the inning to put the Braves in front early against Zach Duke and the Pirates. Javier Vazquez and the Atlanta bullpen needed nothing else to hold the Pirates down.
Atlanta tagged on several more runs as Martin Prado hit a three run homer in the fourth and former Pirate David Ross added a three run blast in the 7th.
Atlanta almost made turned this series into a three straight shutouts. But, the Pirates put together a two out rally in the 9th to score a run. When Ramon Vazquez was HBP to force home a run. I’m assuming by then that most of the nearly 15,000 who turned out had departed to listen to talk about the upcoming NFL draft.
Freddy Sanchez and Nyjer Morgan both had two hits, with Sanchez smacking his NL leading 7th double of the year.
After Joe Kerrigan was hired, the Bucco Blog did a nice study on whether or not 1st inning runs allowed is really a big deal or not. This is something that seemed to plague the Pirates last year with Duke (19), Snell (22) and Gorzelanny (24) giving up a bunch of runs in the first frame (compared to 10 by Maholm).
David Ross came into the game hitting less than .200 in 86 PAs at PNC. He doubled in addition to his homer.
Braves reliever Jeff Bennett is best remembered (at least by me) as one of the Pittsburgh Five when five Buccos were lost in the 2003 Rule V draft in the first six picks. In addition to Bennett, the Pirates lost Chris Shelton, Rich Thompson, Frank Brooks and Jose Bautista). Check out Baseball America’s synopsis of the draft. Have to love Brian Graham’s quote: “What this shows is we have a lot of depth in our system.” Really, Brian? Where?+ posts