It is tough not to like what James McDonald brought to the mound. He tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just three singles and one walk. He struck out eight. And he got some support.

Colorado didn’t advance a runner past second base against McDonald and he struck out five of the first six hitters he faced. Jeff Francis had a different tale to tell. He allowed a solo homer to Garrett Jones and a two run homer to Ronny Cedeno in the third inning. Neil Walker singled home Andrew McCutchen one inning later to make it 4-0. Francis was pulled with two out in the sixth after allowing his third hit of the inning. Earlier in the inning, Pedro Alvarez had singled, driving in Walker.

The Pittsburgh bullpen lived on the edge. Wil Ledezma allowed two singles in a scoreless seventh. Sean Gallagher walked two in the 8th and Justin Thomas was called on to put out the fire. Along the way, Troy Tulowitzki’s infield single scored Colorado’s only run of the night. Newly acquired Chris Resop tossed an uneventful ninth.

Francis went 9-2/3, allowing all five Pirate runs on nine hits. He walked none and struck out five.

The Good
Jones broke a slump with two hits.

Welcome James McDonald.

Welcome Chris Resop.

The Bad
The bullpen looked shaky.

The Rest
Francis had not pitched against the Pirates since 2007. He is now 3-3 lifetime. McDonald is 3-1 against Colorado. The Stones are the only team he has beaten more than once.

There is no truth to the rumor that Tom Hicks, former Rangers owner and free spender, called Chan Ho Park (along with Resop, recently picked up by Pittsburgh from the waiver wire) and demanded his money back.

If he had enough at bats, Walker would be among the top 10 in the NL in batting average.

Pirate pitchers combined to hit double digits in whiffs for just the seventh time all year. Last time was July 20th against Milwaukee when Brad Lincoln was pulled after seven outs and two of the recently departed (D.J. Carrasco and Octavio Dotel) combined to strike out eight Beer Men.

Not sure why the Pirates haven’t DFA’d Andy LaRoche. Barring a catastrophic injury, he won’t play regularly again in Pittsburgh. He has gotten just 13 at bats over the last month and appeared in just 13 games.

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