If you would have told me that James McDonald would give up 3 runs, the Pirates would hit 4 home runs, Clint Barmes would have 2 hits, 2 RBI and a homer and the Pirates would still only win by 1, I would have taken away your bath salts and punched you in the mouth.
Well, all of that did happen and in the 6-5 win and the Bucs took a series at Miller Park for the first time since April 2010. J-Mac didn’t perform as we’ve come to expect, but that’s not to say he was bad at all. 6 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs – only 1 earned - and 8 K’s…I’ll take it. The win has his record at 5-2 and his 2.14 ERA is among the best in the league. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.
Barmes’s error in the first inning gave the Brew Crew an opportunity to put 2 on the board early. But Barmes responded with an RBI blooper, and 3 Bucco bombs later (Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Rod Barajas), the Pirates had a 5-2 lead in the sixth.
Nyjer Morgan hit his second homer of the season (and the series) to cut the lead to 5-3 in the bottom half of the inning. The next two batters reached base, and it looked like J-Mac was in trouble. But Ray Searage made a visit to the mound and J-Mac struck out the next two to get out of the jam. That is the difference in McDonald this year, his ability to battle back and not collapse.
The bullpen has been great all year…but not today. Juan Cruz started the seventh and gave up a solo shot to Martin Maldonado cutting the lead to 1. Fortunately, Barmes lost his mind and hit a solo shot of his own in the top of the ninth that gave the Pirates a 6-4 lead and Joel Hanrahan an insurance run…he would need it. Brooks Conrad trimmed the lead back down to 1 in Hammer Time with yet another solo shot. The Hammer got one to pop out and walked another before finishing things off with a double-play.
It was a strange day with the two teams combining for 7 homers, but any time the Pirates get a series win, let alone in Miller Park, I’ll take it. The Cardinals lost again last night putting your Buccos in sole possession of second place in the NL Central. They’re 3 games back of the division-leading Reds, who the Pirates will visit for a 3-game series starting tomorrow after a day off.
Hoist the colors.