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By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit: AP
So far this season, the Pittsburgh Pirates have done much better than expected.  Predicted by most to have a record similar to that of last season, the Buccos have maintained a mark within (and not lower than) five games under .500.  Coming into tonight’s game against the New York Mets, the Pirates were in danger of dropping to 24-29, and a disappointing series in New York could lead to the downfall that is characteristic of most Pirates’ seasons as of late.
The Pirates had a chance to get on the board early tonight off Mets’ starter R.A. Dickey…but after a leadoff double by Jose Tabata, the next three batters were retired, and the Buccos left a runner on base in the first frame.
The Mets also led off the first inning with a double by Angel Pagan.  Unlike the Pirates, however, the Mets were able to bring the run home.  Jason Bay hit a dribbler down the third base line, and beat out James McDonald’s throw to first base, allowing Pagan to score from the third.  The Mets had the early advantage, 1-0. 
The Pirates stranded two more batters in the third inning, after Tabata reached base on a walk and Josh Harrison recorded his first Major League hit, Andrew McCutchen struck out (for the second time in the game) to end the inning.
Ronny Cedeno led off the eighth inning with a single, giving the Pirates their first base runner in five innings.  After a pop up out on a bunt attempt from Dusty Brown, Matt Diaz went down on strikes for the second out of the inning.  Tabata was hit by a pitch, putting two men on base, with two outs, and Harrison approached the plate with a chance to be a hero…and that’s exactly what he was tonight, smacking a base hit to right field and advancing to second base on a horrible throwing decision by Carlos Beltran. 
McCutchen, who had struck out his previous three times at the plate, drew a walk to load the bases for Neil Walker.  Real deal is the nickname we give him here at Fans From The Stands, and that’s exactly what he was at this at-bat, drilling a two-run single up the middle to give the Buccos a 3-1 lead.  This ended the night for Dickey, who pitched a strong game, tallying ten strikeouts in the game, but didn’t have enough to finish the eighth frame, and the Pirates made him pay for it.
The Pirates added to the lead in the ninth inning on a bases-loaded, two-out, two-run single by Brandon Wood, stretching the advantage to 5-1. 
Joel Hanrahan didn’t earn a save tonight, but came in and did exactly what he’s done all year to this point.  The Buccos’ closer took care of the Mets 1-2-3 in the final frame, clinching the 5-1 victory, and evening the series at a game a piece.
This was a huge win for the Pirates.  They overcame an outstanding start by a knuckleball pitcher that they struggled against early.  James McDonald put together another strong effort, giving up only one run on six hits through his six innings of work.  They also got contributions from a number of players, including Josh Harrison, who earned his first hit and RBI, Dusty Brown, who tallied a hit and performed very well behind the plate, and Ronny Cedeno, who continues to creep his average up to a respectable mark.
The Buccos are now just three games under the .500 mark, and enter tomorrow’s game against the Mets just one victory shy of their road-win total from a year ago.  Kevin Correia will get the start, and the first pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm.
Record Vs. Mets: 1-1
Record Vs. N.L. East: 3-8
Record On The Road: 16-14
Overall Record: 25-28
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!