Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pirates win in 11

Josh Phelps ties the game - AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Last night Matt Morris delivered a strong start and the Pirates came from behind yet again, winning 4-2 in 11 innings. After delivering an extra-base hit in both pinch-hit appearances over the weekend, Matt Kata was rewarded with a start at third base. Batting second in the order, he tripled and scored in the first inning to give the Bucs a 1-0 lead. The Rockies were quiet until the fourth inning, when Todd Helton led off with a fly ball to right. Jose Bautista made the routine catch, but dropped the ball as he was removing it from his glove. It was incorrectly ruled a drop, and Helton was safe at second on the error. He later scored to tie the game. After a Troy Tulowitzki home run gave the Rockies the lead in the seventh, Matt Holliday singled. That knocked Morris from the game. John Grabow relieved him, and promptly threw a wild pitch. Helton then ripped a ball to right, and Bautista found redemption. He made a huge diving catch to end the inning and save a run.

The next inning, Josh Phelps pinch-hit for Grabow. Phelps continued his hot streak, drilling a 1-1 pitch into the left field seats to tie the game. After that, Shawn Chacon breezed through two perfect innings. Salomon Torres came on in the tenth and allowed a lead-off single to Tulowitzki. In my mind, the key play of the game followed. On a 2-2 pitch, Tulowitzki broke for second. A swing and a miss from Holliday, and Ronny Paulino fired to second. Freddy Sanchez picked the low throw and made the tag. The double play might have been the difference in this game. After a few tense minutes with Damaso Marte on the mound, the Pirates escaped to the 11th.

A walk, a sacrifice and a hit batsman later, and Sanchez was up with a chance to give the Pirates the lead. He delivered. Freddy's single to center plated Cesar Izturis, and the Bucs added an insurance run on an error later in the inning. Matt Capps came on and retired the side on eight pitches. Game.

It was nice to see Morris pitch well. He was far from dominant, but he made big pitches when he needed them. With the money invested in Morris, he is a lock to be in the rotation next season (barring injury or a huge collapse). I would feel much better entering the offseason if he could string together a few quality starts as the season winds down.

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