Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 8/13/12

Obviously, teams could always use a nine run inning…and obviously, nine run innings are rare. Before Sunday, the Pirates hadn’t had one since July 20th of 2010, when they hung nine on the Brewers in the first inning. I don’t think they could’ve picked a better time to repeat the feat.

Things were looking tremendously bleak early on in this one. The Bucs had lost three in a row, and what did Erik Bedard do to start the game? He allowed a homer, of course, making it four straight games in which the Pirates’ opponent homered in the first inning. The pain didn’t stop there, though. There was a walk, a hit batter, an RBI single, and a two-run error by Clint Barmes. It was 4-0, and the Pirates were staring a 4 game losing streak and a sweep at the hands of the lowly Padres right in the face. One inning later, a fifth run scored when nobody thought to cover home on a dribble to the pitcher. Logan Forsythe started the play on second base, then came straight home when Michael McKenry and Bedard went for the ball. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

The only good news? Ross Ohlendorf was on the mound for the Padres. He set down the Pirates easily in the first and second innings, though, and as bad as Ohlendorf is I don’t think anybody would’ve been surprised to see him pitch well at that point.Luckily, Ross started to come apart. Bedard was able to bloop a double in the third, and Neil Walker ripped his second single of the day to bring him home. That got the Bucs on the board, at least, but Andrew McCutchen popped out to end the rally.

Bedard settled down on the mound, and the Pirates went back to work in the next inning…while Ohlendorf helped them with a control lapse. Garrett Jones led off with a walk, Gaby Sanchez hit a sharp ground ball that went for an error, and Pedro Alvarez smoked a single to load the bases with no outs, OK, rally brewing, but the bottom of the order was up. McKenry battled and drew a walk to bring home one run, but it also brought up Clint Barmes. After holding up on two breaking balls in the dirt, Barmes delivered his swing of the year…and one of the swings of the year for the whole team. He lined a ball to the left field corner, ducking to hope it stayed fair…which it DID, clanging off the foul pole for a grand slam. PNC Park went nuts. Greg Brown went nuts. Barmes had to feel great–ESPECIALLY on a day where he had already made two errors (he’s usually reliable in the field, of course). His first career grand slam put the Bucs ahead, 6-5 and completely turned around the game.

That wasn’t all. Bedard drew a walk, and after a pitching change and an out, Walker singled for the third time. McCutchen then lined a ball to right center and over CF Cameron Maybin‘s head for a 2 RBI double (barely scoring Bedard…Walker had to slow up to avoid passing him, then nearly had to carry him back to the dugout). Jones followed with a triple that also eluded Maybin, and McKenry delivered the final blow of the inning with an RBI single. Nine runs. 5-1 was all of a sudden 10-5, and fans could finally exhale/celebrate instead of complain/worry. The Pirates needed something big to bust out of a rough patch, and they got it.

Bedard shut it down for another inning, then the bullpen took over. Chris Resop, Chad Qualls, Juan Cruz, and Joel Hanrahan tossed scoreless frames. The Pirates piled on more hits, although they missed a few chances to add on even more runs. Walker, though, didn’t miss anything on Sunday. He completed a 5-for-5 day with a homer, double, and a walk. Barmes’ slam will get the attention, and rightly so, but Neil paced the offense all afternoon.

With the win, the Bucs avoided a sweep and gained a game back on the Cardinals and Braves in the wild card hunt. This doesn’t change what has been a subpar week, but it’s nice to stop the bleeding and certainly gives them some momentum heading into a big series with the Dodgers.

Pirates 11, Padres 5 / Box / 2012 Record: 64-50 / Next: Monday, vs. Dodgers, 7:05

MVP: Barmes (+.279) / LVP: Bedard (-.264) / Key play: Barmes’ slam

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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