The Pirates were glad to change their calendars to July after a terrible month of June saw them go 6-20. The start of the month also marked a return to PNC Park after completing a nine game road trip that saw them go 2-7. While the month of June was difficult, the Pirates were hoping to build on the momentum that they had gained by taking two out of three from the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Their opponent for this short four game home stand would be none other than their cross state rival the Philadelphia Phillies. The two teams met earlier in the year and split a short two game series.
Thursday, July 1: Timely hits and great pitching performances by starter Daniel McCutchen, relievers Javier Lopez, D.J. Carrasco, Evan Meek, and closer Octavio Dotel were the keys to the Pirates 3-2 win in game one of the series. The Buccos drew first blood in this game with a Bobby Crosby single that scored Lastings Milledge in the second. The Phillies would answer in the top of the third with a Wilson Valdez solo home run. The Pirates would act quickly by regaining the lead in the bottom of the inning with a Pedro Alvarez double that scored Jose Tabata. This act is something that Pirates fans hope to see for years to come. In the fourth the Pirates would add their final run of the night in the form of a Tabata single that would score Andy LaRoche. The Phillies would cut into the lead once again in the fifth on a Greg Dobbs single that would score Shane Victorino on a throwing error by LaRoche. It was unfortunate that LaRoche was tagged with the error, since he made a great play up the middle. While the throw was in the dirt, first baseman Garrett Jones should have made the catch. Daniel McCutchen would work 5 1/3 innings giving up six hits, striking out four, walking one, and giving up one earned run, while earning his first win of the year. The three headed monster of Lopez, Carrasco, and Meek would go 2 2/3 innings giving up one hit, striking out one, walking one, and the key stat no runs given up. This bullpen work would allow Dotel to come in and collect his 17th save of the year, when he caught Victorino looking at strike three for the final out.
Friday, July 2: Another good pitching performance, this time from Ross Ohlendorf, provided the Pirates with their third win in a row. Ohlendorf went seven innings allowing five hits while striking out eight. The Phillies Jamie Moyer also pitched well despite two infield hits and a throwing error allowed the Buccos to score their two runs on the night. Those two runs would come in the fourth inning when with the bases loaded Andy LaRoche hit a slow roller towards third that Moyer threw away allowing Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Doumit to score. Octavio Dotel would come into the game collecting his 18th save on the year. While it was great to see Ohlendorf get his first win of the year, it would be nice to see the Pirates offense give their pitcher more run support in these types of games, but us Pirates fans will always take a win.
Saturday, July 3: After three straight wins the Pirates hit a wall on this night as they would lose to the Philles 12-4. Ryan Howard would drive in three runs and Jimmy Rollins would homer as they lead the Phillies offense. An error by Pirates shortstop Bobby Crosby would lead to a five run third for the Phillies that would ultimately put the game out of reach. Paul Maholm would have one of his roughest outings on the year as he would go three innings allowing ten hits, seven earned runs, two walks, and only one strikeout. The Phillies would receive a great outing from starter Kyle Kendrick as he would pitch a complete game allowing ten hits, three earned runs, two walks, and striking out four. The only true bright spot on the night for the Pirates was when rookie Pedro Alvarez finally hit his first Major League home run, a solo shot, in the second inning.
Sunday, July 4: Happy 234th Birthday America!!! What a better way to celebrate then a cross state battle between the Pirates and Phillies. This game was a rare sight for the Bucco faithful as they would overcome a three run deficit in the seventh inning to defeat the Phillies 8-5 and take three out of four games in the series. The Pirates started the game off strong by scoring two runs in the first inning when Garrett Jones would ground out to second scoring Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez would single in Neil Walker. Philly would score a run of their own in the second when Wilson Valdez ground out to shortstop scoring Ben Francisco. The Phillies would then score three more runs in the third on a Raul Ibanez single, Ryan Howard sacrifice fly, and Greg Dobbs double. Then in the top of the seventh the Phillies would add one more run this time on a Dane Sardinha solo home run. Usually with the Pirates down 4 runs in the seventh it’s a safe bet that you can chalk up a loss to the Buccos, but on this day the Pirates decided to bring out the bats at just the right time. The bottom of the seventh provided the fireworks for the Buccos as they would score six runs taking an 8-5 lead. The would receive their runs from a Alvarez solo shot, a Delwyn Young double, a Tabata single, and a Jones single. Dotel would then come in and collect his 19th save of the year. It was also announced earlier in the day that Evan Meek would be representing the Pirates at the All-Star game in Anaheim this year.
It’s always a great feeling to see the Pirates win and even better when they take a series from the Philadelphia Phillies. Along with the series win the Pirates took the season series four game to two from the Phillies. After an awful June it was good to see the Pirates win three out of four to start July. Now they must head to Houston and then Milwaukee for a six game road trip. They will need to carry this momentum to the road if they hope to have success prior to the All-Star break.
Current Record: 30-52
And….As Always….Lets Go Bucs!!!!!