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By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
The Pirates entered Tuesday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles having lost four straight and in danger of falling to three games under .500.  The offense hasn’t been producing, and the pitching has been faltering slightly, which has been immediate cause for concern for Bucco fans.
Tonight, the Pirates’ offense exploded as they blew out the Orioles by a final score of 9-3 in front of 33,000+ fans at PNC Park.  On a night when thousands of fans, former players and their families, local media, and more gathered to celebrate the Pirates’ victory in the 1971 World Series, the current Buccos gave everyone a lot to cheer about tonight.
For the most part this season, the Pirates have relied on their pitching to get them a big win when they really need it.  Tonight, it was just the opposite.  The offense collected a total of 15 hits, while four different players had at least two RBI’s as the Buccos hammered Orioles’ pitching all night long.
The offensive explosion was enough to overpower the mediocre performance from starter James McDonald.  J-Mac gave up three runs on seven hits, while walking four and giving up two homeruns through just 4.2 innings of work.  Clint Hurdle was forced to pull him from the game in the fifth after James had thrown well over 100 pitches.  Chris Resop came in and shut the Orioles down in the fifth and sixth, and would eventually earn his third win of the season.
The Pirates got on the board early tonight.  Garrett Jones crushed a double to deep right center, scoring Jose Tabata and Josh Harrison.  Neil Walker sacrificed Jones home to give the Bucs an early 3-0 lead.
Tabata’s double in the second scored Ronny Cedeno, and Xavier Paul’s sac fly in the third scored Andrew McCutchen, giving the Pirates a commanding 5-0 lead.
The Orioles battled back into the game temporarily in the fifth inning on a solo homerun by J.J. Hardy and a two-run shot by Adam Jones.  These would be the last runs the O’s would score on the night.
The Buccos added a few more insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings, including a two-run double by Neil Walker.  “Real Deal” had two hits and three RBI’s on the night.
This was a special night at PNC Park.  With many of the players who were a part of that 1971 championship team in attendance, there seemed to be an extra bounce in the step of the Buccos on the field.  After one of the most disappointing performances of the season last night, the Pirates rebounded in a strong way, something they’ve been able to do consistently this season.
While the starting pitching has been less-than-stellar as of late, it is VERY inspiring to see the offense turn a corner tonight.  We see what this team is capable of doing when they get contributions from everyone.  Tonight, we saw strong games from Walker, McCutchen, Jones, Paul, Tabata, Cedeno, as well as Michael McKenry, who had two hits and a run scored.  This is what the Buccos need to do more of on a consistent basis, which will relieve some of the pressure off the starting rotation.
With the victory, the Pirates have now set up a rubber match with the Orioles tomorrow afternoon at PNC Park.  Kevin Correia will get the start for Pittsburgh, with the first pitch slated for 12:35.  The Pirates will look to get back to .500 with a win.
Record Vs. Orioles: 1-1
Record Vs. A.L. East: 1-1
Interleague Play Record: 3-5
Record At Home: 16-19
Overall Record: 36-37
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!