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By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Last night’s game was just plain frustrating for Pirates’ fans.  After being shut out by Madison Bumgarner and the Giants, the Buccos sat at 1-8 in the month of August prior to this afternoon’s game against the San Francisco Giants, while having dropped 14 of their last 16 games.
This afternoon was a big game for the Pirates, who had the opportunity to win a series for the first time since mid-July.  Jeff Karstens made the start today for the Bucs, coming off his worst start of the season against the Padres last Friday night.  The Giants countered in this rubber match with Jonathan Sanchez, a nifty left-hander looking for his fifth victory of the season.
The Pirates’ offense was strong today, getting contributions from a number of different players on their way to an 9-2 beat down of the Giants.
Sanchez, known for his inconsistency and at-times deceiving dominance, didn’t have his best stuff today, and the Pirates took advantage of it.  The Giants’ starter lasted only 4.1 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on four hits while walking four batters. 
Pittsburgh took the lead early in the first inning.  After drawing a lead-off four-pitch walk to start the game, Andrew McCutchen stole second, and eventually scored on Ryan Ludwick’s two-out RBI single.
Pablo Sandoval quickly tied things up in the bottom half of the inning, blasting a two-out solo homerun to right field, tying the game 1-1.
The Pirates took advantage of Sanchez’s struggles to throw strikes…and made him pay.  After a leadoff walk to Jeff Karstens, Sanchez gave up a monster two-run homerun to McCutchen.  After a walk to Steve Pearce and a two-base error, Matt Diaz smacked an RBI single, scoring Pearce and giving the Bucs a 4-1 advantage.
San Francisco got a run back in the fourth inning on an RBI-single by Orlando Cabrera.  The base hit scored Aubrey Huff, who smacked a 1-out double down the first base line to reach base.  Karstens was able to strike out Aaron Rowand to end the inning with the Pirates still occupying a two-run lead.
Cutch scored for the third consecutive time after leading off the fifth inning with a walk, and eventually scoring on an RBI-single, this time by Garrett Jones.  Pittsburgh extended the lead once again to three runs.
The Buccos opened things wide open in the seventh inning with three more runs on an RBI single from Diaz and a two-run single from Brandon Wood. 
Karstens responded well to his last outing against the Padres, giving up two runs on eight hits in his six innings of work today against the Giants, while earning his ninth win of the year.  He effectively worked his way out of trouble on multiple occasions as well, including leaving two runners stranded in the fifth and sixth innings.
It was an interesting lineup devised by Clint Hurdle for this afternoon’s game.  Steve Pearce, despite his 3-31 mark since being recalled, made the start at third base, while Brandon Wood gave Neil Walker a day off at second base.  Matt Diaz started in right field and Garrett Jones spot-started for Derrek Lee at first base, who was a late scratch due to continued soreness in his hand.
Andrew McCutchen took this game over in the early-going, and set the tone throughout the afternoon for the Pirates’ victory.  Cutch went 1-1 with a homerun, two RBI’s, three walks, four runs scored, and two stolen bases. 
This was a huge victory for the Pirates.  After a horrible home stand, this was a huge step in the right direction for the Bucs to get back to their winning ways.  They won a series for the first time since mid-July, and earned a much-needed confidence boost as they now head into the series this weekend against the N.L. Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers.
Record Vs. Giants: 3-3
Record Vs. N.L. West: 11-14
Record On The Road: 30-28
Overall Record: 56-60
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!