Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 7/7/12

The fourth inning that wouldn’t end cost the Pirates in a big way on Friday night, as they blew an early lead and missed a chance to win their fifth game in a row.

The party got started early on in front of a packed house at PNC Park. Josh Harrison, Drew Sutton, and Andrew McCutchen all singled to produce a quick run. Casey McGehee killed the rally with a double play, though, and the Bucs weren’t able to make it a big inning. They got back into the act in the third, though, scoring two runs on a McCutchen triple and a Neil Walker double. The Bucs were hitting Barry Zito hard and it looked like it could be another big night for the offense. Cutch going against the lefty didn’t even seem fair, and Walker’s double hit off the wall and nearly got out of the yard.

Erik Bedard started to ease some fears about his recent struggles with a strong first three innings–he didn’t allow a hit and faced the minimum–but the fourth was an absolute mess. The sequence went like this: walk, double, homer (although the pitch seemed pretty good), single, fly-out, error by Harrison on a hard hit/tough play. Bedard’s slow pace in the brutal heat made it even more miserable, and after retiring his mound opponent 0n a sac-bunt, he was lifted from the game. Erik has been downright terrible lately, and while he was a little unlucky tonight, his control still didn’t seem to be very good and he wasn’t getting any swings and misses. Very concerning.

Chris Resop did an excellent job in the mop-up role, going 2.1 scoreless to keep the Bucs very much in the game. The sold-out park had the life mostly sucked out of it by the Giants’ big inning, but McGehee gave the Pirates life with a solo homer in the fifth to cut the lead to one.

Juan Cruz wasn’t able to keep the lead at one, though. He was hit very hard in the seventh inning, and the Giants tacked on a huge insurance run. The inning did have a major highlight, though–Rod Barajas threw out a runner! Amazing!

The Pirates got the run back in grand fashion in the eighth. Former Bucco Javier Lopez has become a spectacular lefty specialist for the Giants, and hadn’t allowed a homer since being traded to San Fran in 2010. That changed on Friday, when Lopez came on to face Pedro Alvarez. Pedro absolutely tanked a 1-2 pitch over the stands in right-center for a 457-foot BOMB. That really got everyone fired up again and brought the Bucs back within one.

Jared Hughes did a good job in two scoreless innings of relief, but the Pirates couldn’t complete the comeback. The park was going nuts for the bottom of the ninth, and with the red-hot (and often clutch in late games) Michael McKenry available off the bench, Clint Hurdle sent up Eric Fryer to lead off (pinch hitting for the pitcher’s spot). I still have yet to see a reasonable explanation for why that happened. Fryer flew out, Drew Sutton lined out, and McCutchen grounded out, so the Giants escaped with a win.

Tough loss–you can pin it on a rough start by Bedard, and the offense still nearly made up for it. The Pirates missed a couple chances late and had more chances to pad the lead early on, notably in the first inning.  The Bucs’ last three losses (over a span of 11 games) have all been by just one run, so it’s hard to complain too much. Get ‘em tomorrow.

Giants 6, Pirates 5 / Box / 2012 Record: 46-37 / Next: Saturday, vs. Giants, 4:05

MVP: McCutchen (+.202) / LVP: Bedard (-.451) / Key play: Theriot’s 4th inning double

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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