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By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit: AP
For the second straight evening, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves played deep into the night at Turner Field.  After rain delayed last night’s first pitch over two hours, the two clubs faced off tonight it what would turn out to be a marathon battle between two of the best bullpens in baseball…and they proved it tonight.
In what began as one of the more exciting games of the 2011 season, the result would turn out to be one of the biggest letdowns and official blunders in recent baseball memory. 
The Buccos got things started early with two runs in the first inning.  Xavier Paul led off with a single, stole second base, and scored on Neil Walker’s RBI triple.  Pedro Alvarez then knocked Walker in with an RBI single to right field, giving the Pirates the early 2-0 advantage.
Michael McKenry belted his second homerun of the year in the second inning on a blast to deep left field, increasing the lead to 3-0.
The Braves tied the game in the third inning, and all of the damage was done after starter Jeff Karstens had recorded the first two outs.  Brian McCann’s seeing-eye single just past Alvarez got things started.  Freddie Freeman then singled.  Dan Uggla smacked a single up the middle, scoring McCann.  After Eric Hinske walked, Jason Heyward slated another slow single up the middle, scoring Freeman and Uggla, tying things up at the end of the third frame.
Both teams stranded numerous runners on base and squandered opportunities over the middle innings of the game.  The Pirates had a great opportunity to take the lead back in the fifth inning.  With two outs, Walker singled and Andrew McCutchen drew a walk, but Alvarez chased a ball downstairs on a full count to end the inning.
The Braves’ best chance to snag the lead came in the sixth inning as they loaded the bases with only one out against the Bucs’ Tony Watson.  But the Pirates’ left hander worked his way out of the inning, as the bullpen has successfully done over and over this year, by striking out Nate McClouth and getting Martin Prado to ground out to first to end the frame.
This would prove to be somewhat of a preview of what was to take place over the next hours that stretched into the early Wednesday morning hours.  Both teams left runners on base, emptying their bullpens and dugouts, while players stretched their physical and mental limitations.
As Daniel McCutchen entered his sixth inning of relief, Julio Lugo forced a one out walk in the bottom of the 19th inning.  Jordan Schafer singled, pushing Lugo to third base with the pitcher, Scott Proctor approaching the plate.  Proctor hit a soft single to Pedro Alvarez, who threw home to beat Lugo home by a mile…or at least that’s what everyone thought.  Umpire Jerry Meals called Lugo safe, ruling that McKenry missed the tag, which came as a surprise to everyone at Turner Field, including Lugo and Mckenry. 
Lugo and the Braves quickly ran inside their dugout, while Clint Hurdle barked at the umpiring crew as they left the field.
The game, lasting a Pirates’ record six hours and 39 minutes, ends in a travesty.  Sure, the Pirates had their opportunities to win, but for a historic game like this to end the way it did, it’s a travesty folks.  This is, without a doubt, a heartbreaking loss for Pittsburgh.
The 19 inning game included 28 hits and 39 men left on base.  For the Pirates, Walker and McKenry led the team with three hits, while Paul and Ronny Cedeno added two a piece. 
Following this disastrous loss, the Pirates will now face off against the Braves’ ace Jair Jurrjens in game three of the series.  Pittsburgh will send Paul Maholm to the mound.
Record vs. Braves: 1-3
Record Vs. N.L. East: 11-15
Record On The Road: 27-23
Overall Record: 53-48
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!