Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 8/1/12

The Pirates won the series in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon with an 8-4 victory, building some momentum heading into this weekend’s massive series against the Reds in Cincinnati. The Bucs now have 60 victories–a mark they didn’t reach at all two years ago, and took nearly a month more to reach last season.

Jeff Karstens allowed a solo homer to Starlin Castro in the first inning, but was stingy after that. He wasn’t as efficient as he usually is and lasted just five innings as a result, but after the homer he allowed just three more baserunners. I have no problem with a lack of efficiency if he can be that effective, although I’d still say this was probably just an aberration. Karstens threw 93 pitches (63 strikes) in his five innings.

The Bucs got on the board against Travis Wood in the third inning with a leadoff homer by Starling Marte–his second. Later in the inning after an Andrew McCutchen walk and a Travis Snider single, Wood balked with two outs to send McCutchen home for free to put the Bucs up 2-1.

The one run lead looked like it would hold up for a while, Karstens hung on to it through five, then Chris Resop got the first two outs of the sixth before allowing a hit. Tony Watson finished the job, though, and got two more outs in the seventh after allowing a leadoff single. Jared Hughes finished that inning, and all of a sudden the 2-1 lead seemed a lot safter with Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan at the ready for the 8th and 9th. The bullpen passed its first high-stress middle-innings test without Brad Lincoln.

The Pirate offense had apparently had enough of the slim lead, though, and came out swinging in the top of the eight. SEVEN STRAIGHT HITS to start the inning posted a giant five-spot on the board, making it 7-2 in a hurry. Josh Harrison started it with a single, then McCutchen doubled to set up shop. Garrett Jones pinch hit for Gaby Sanchez (Sanchez got the start vs the lefty and went 0-2 with a walk; Jones pinch hit against a RHP) and came up big with a two run single. Snider hit his second single of the night, and then the Fort happened. His tenth bomb was a giant 3-run shot that blew open the game for sure. Don’t look now, but McKenry’s numbers...um…wow. Pedro Alvarez and Clint Barmes singled to complete the hit streak, but both were stranded. The Bucs did tack on a run in the next inning when Jones doubled in McCutchen (who had two hits and raised his average to .373. It’s August 1st. Think about that.)

Grilli tossed a clean eighth, but  Hanrahan had a very sloppy ninth. I was thinking we’d see Chad Qualls come in with the giant cushion, but Hammer hadn’t pitched since Friday and there’s a day off tomorrow as well. Joel allowed the Cubs to hit for the cycle against him and before you knew it, they had three runs on the board and a few more runners on base. Qualls actually had to warm up, but Hanrahan recovered and finished the job.

Good series win for the Bucs after a rough start. I think people will be feeling a little better heading in to Cincinnai than they did a couple nights ago, and other than Joel’s hiccup, there wasn’t much at all to complain about in this game. The offense showed up, Karstens delivered a good start, and the rest of the bullpen did a great job.

Pirates 8, Cubs 4 / Box / 2012 Record: 60-44 / Next: Friday, at Reds, 7:10

MVP: McCutchen (+.228) / LVP: Snider (-.048) / Key play: Marte’s HR

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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