Friday, July 27, 2007

Pirates avoid sweep

A promising game quickly turned sour for Perez and the Mets - AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

For five innings, this game followed the typical script:
  1. Pirates give up on young pitcher, trade him.
  2. Pitcher quickly becomes star for new team.
  3. Pitcher faces Pirates, dominates.
We have seen it with others, most recently Chris Young. Yesterday it was Oliver Perez's turn. Heading into the top of the sixth, Perez had allowed only an infield single while striking out eight Pirates. Paul Maholm had only allowed one run, but that was starting to look like it would be enough. Nate McLouth led off the sixth with a broken-bat single. With a little luck, Maholm managed an infield single. Cesar Izturis bunted, and suddenly things got interesting. Perez scooped up the ball and fired it into right field. One run scored, and runners were left at second and third with no outs and the heart of the Pirates' order coming to the plate. Enthusiasm was quickly quieted, however, as Perez induced pop-outs to Freddy Sanchez and Jason Bay. But Xavier Nady's sharp grounder off David Wright plated two more, and Josh Phelps followed with his first home run as a Pirate. Suddenly, a hopeless game had turned into a 5-1 Pirate lead. Each team added a few runs, and the Bucs escaped New York with an 8-4 victory.

Paul Maholm pitched well in this game, continuing to solidify himself as a reliable starter for the Pirates. He now has each of the team's wins since the All-Star break. Josh Phelps went 3 for 4 with a home run, a double, and three RBI's while filling in for the ill Adam LaRoche.

The Pirates were lucky to steal a win in this game. They did not hit many balls hard (five infield singles, two errors by Mets' infield), and they very easily could have been shut out instead of scoring eight. However, I have never been opposed to a cheap win. We'll take them any way we can get them right now.

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