Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 6/9/12

The Pirates were able to get the bats going early and ride a strong start to a solid win Friday night in front of a nearly sold out crowd at PNC Park. That makes 10 wins in the last 13 contests for the red-hot Bucs.

Neil Walker led the charge with three hits against a struggling Luke Hochevar, who the Bucs squared up pretty well in the early innings. Garrett Jones knocked Neil in with a double in the first, and the Pirates set up shop again in the second when Rod Barajas led off with a single. Eric Hosmer (normally a 1B) botched the ball in right field, allowing Rod to take second. Clint Barmes continued his recent hot streak with a base hit, and Barajas surprisingly came chugging around third despite the fact that there were no outs and Jeff Francoeur (who has a cannon) was in center. The throw beat Rod but was slightly off-line, and Barajas made a brilliant maneuver around the catcher and was able to reach out and touch home with his hand. He was shockingly ruled safe, and that appeared to be the right call on the replay. Probably the play of the game.

Hurdle deadpans on Barajas’ slide: “Pure athleticism in its rarest form. I think that’s called a swim move in football.”

— Bill Brink (@BrinkPG) June 9, 2012

After two outs, Walker delivered an RBI single to extend the lead to 3-0 and it seemed like the Bucs were rolling.

Erik Bedard started off the game with no problems, but the Royals got to him in the third with a walk, double, and single for two runs. Other than that, though, Bedard gave the Bucs a big start that they really needed. The bullpen was in pretty bad shape after logging a bunch of innings in Cincy, and Erik (who hasn’t gone all that deep into many games) was able to go seven strong. He allowed five hits, three walks, and struck out five – but more importantly, never really put the game in danger even after the Royals cut the lead to one.

The Pirates got one run back in the fourth on a silly play by Kansas City. Pedro Alvarez hit a rocket double to center with one out, then moved to third on a Jose Tabata infield single. The Royals executed the useless third-to-first move to “pick off” Tabata…except that Jose was able to stay in a rundown long enough to allow Pedro to score. I don’t know why the Royals were OK with that trade, but it was good baserunning by Pedro (and Tabata…well…AFTER he was originially picked off).

That would be enough for Bedard and the bullpen. Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan both breezed through 1-2-3 innings in the 8th and 9th, finishing out the Pirates’ second win in a row. It was nice to see Joel bounce back after his blown save on Thursday, and the (almost) sellout crowd certainly was behind him. PNC was indeed packed, and I expect it to stay that way for a while as long as the Bucs keep playing like this.

The win brings the Bucs to a season-high three games over .500. Cincinnati won, so the Pirates remain two games back, but they are now alone in second because St. Louis lost to Cleveland.

Pirates 4, Royals 2 / Box / 2012 Record: 30-27 / Next: Saturday, vs. Royals, 7:15

MVP: Bedard (+.176) / LVP: Presley (-.077) / Key play: Jones’ first inning double

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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