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By Chad Carlson

Photo Credit: Len Redkoles/Getty Images

The Pirates continued their toughest stretch of the season so far tonight against their cross state rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies.  After splitting a highly-competitive series against the wild card-leading Atlanta Braves, and winning the final game of the set Thursday night, Buccos’ fans were hoping that the momentum from the victory would carry over to tonight.  That didn’t happen.

The Phillies lit up the Pirates for eight runs in the first two innings on their way to a 10-3 rout of our Buccos at Citizens Bank Ballpark tonight.

Charlie Morton took the hill for the Pirates tonight.  As has been evident for most of the season, we, as fans, never know what we’re going to get with Charlie.  Tonight, he never stood a chance against the Phillies’ high-powered offense. 

Chase Utley started off the scoring with an RBI-triple in the first inning, and Ryan Howard’s RBI-double and Raul Ibanez’s run-scoring single put the Pirates in an early hole…one they would never be able to crawl out of…and one that would only get deeper.

For Utley, his first inning three-bagger was the beginning of a very good night at the plate for him.  The Phillies’ second basement went 3-5 and 4 RBI’s, including a three-run homerun in the second inning which really blew the game open.

Jimmy Rollins added to the onslaught in the seventh inning with a two-run homerun of his own, increasing the lead to 10-0 at that point.

Morton had a night to forget, giving up eight runs (six earned) on nine hits and walking four batters through four innings.  After Tony Watson had another strong start, throwing two innings of hitless baseball, Jason Grilli came in and gave up two runs on two hits in his pair of innings.

Roy Halladay, who made the start for Philadelphia tonight, was virtually impossible to hit.  In fact, the Pirates were only able to manage just a single hit against the Phillies’ ace, who improved to 13-4 on the season, while lowering his stingy ERA to 2.44

The Pirates were able to put a few runs up on the board late in the game, which only made the score look a little better on paper.  Pedro Ciriaco, who was called back up by the club after the injury to Chris Leroux placed him on the disabled list, smacked a double to shallow left, scoring Lyle Overbay and Michael McKenry.  Ciriaco scored on Xavier Paul’s RBI single.  Paul had two hits on the night.

This was the worst possible outcome of the opening game of this series.  Our starting pitcher threw a horrible game, walking batters, giving up homeruns, and was barely able to get through four innings of work.  Furthermore, our offense continues to struggle.  Don’t let the three runs fool you….they all came late in the game and…well, let’s just say we can’t expect to get too many more two-run doubles off the bat of Pedro Ciriaco.

Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Pedro Alvarez combined to go 0-9 tonight, while Overbay’s hitless game dropped his batting average to an embarrassing .228.  Paul was the only Pirate to have a multi-hit evening.

While the Pirates lost tonight, the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, and Milwaukee Brewers all won, gaining a game in the standings on our Battlin’ Buccos.  Pittsburgh is currently 2.5 games out of first place behind the Brew-Crew.

The Pirates will need to play much better in all aspects tomorrow night in the second game of the series.  James McDonald will start against Philadelphia, who will be welcoming their newest edition, Hunter Pence, who was acquired from the Houston Astros earlier this evening.

Fans From The Stands will be in attendance for game two of the series.  First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
Record Vs. Phillies: 2-2
Record Vs. N.L. East: 12-17
Record On The Road: 28-25
Overall Record: 54-50

And…

As Always…

Let’s Go Bucs!