By Chad Carlson
|Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
The Pittsburgh Pirates welcomed the Boston Red Sox into town this weekend for a three game series, starting with tonight’s 7:05 first pitch at
. The Pirates came into the game on a two game winning streak, while the Bo Sox had dropped two straight as they entered a tough stretch of interleague play games. PNC Park
Coming into the game with an even .500 record, the Pirates and their fans were facing their toughest competition of the season thus far, as the Red Sox have a solid pitching staff to compliment the best offensive lineup in baseball.
Jon Lester took the hill for
, who was looking to become MLB’s first ten-game winner. Paul Maholm, on the other hand, was trying to improve what has been a bit of bad luck when it comes to wins and losses. The Buccos’ left hander came into the game just 3-8, although he has pitched much better than the record indicates. Boston
Maholm, while certainly not his best tonight, managed the game and kept his team alive, and then turned it over to the bullpen, who shut down the Red Sox in route to a 3-1 series-opening victory for the Pirates in front of a sellout crowd.
Paul gave up a run in the first inning, and had many Buccos’ fans scoffing early. To his credit, Maholm cleaned up his act in the next few innings, and kept
off the scoreboard but grinding his way from out to out. He lasted 5.1 innings, giving up one run on six hits, while walking three and striking out two. Boston
The story of the night was the bullpen. The Buccos needed most of the available arms to take the game, using a total of six pitchers tonight. Chris Resop, Tony Watson, and Daniel McCutchen pitched scoreless ball into the eighth, and Jose Veras, after getting himself into trouble with runners on second and third with two outs, was able to get pinch hitter David Ortiz to ground out weakly to second base to end the threat.
Joel Hanrahan set the Sox down 1-2-3 in the ninth to earn his 21st save of the season.
After falling behind 1-0 early, the Pirates battled their way through some tough pitching from Lester. Jose Tabata’s single in the third inning scored Ronny Cedeno and tied the game. Chase d’Arnaud, who was just called up from Triple-A, grounded into a double play, which allowed Michael McKenry to score. The Pirates’ third baseman recorded his first Major League hit tonight as well on a triple to deep left field.
The Pirates won a big game tonight. Before the game this evening, many people felt that winning one game against the Red Sox this series would be considered a success. The Buccos have done that already against the top pitcher they will face this weekend. The Pirates have put themselves in a great position to have a very successful series.
Again, it’s tough not to continue to praise the bullpen. Maholm kept the team in the game, but the relievers shut down the Red Sox in the final four innings of the game.
’s offense is as high-octane as there is in the game, and they were held to just a single run. They left a total of 11 runners on base. Boston
The Pirates will hope to clinch the series victory tomorrow evening at 7:05pm. Jeff Karstens will start for
, as he faces off against former-Bucco, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Pittsburgh
Record Vs. Red Sox: 1-0
Record Vs. A.L. East: 3-1
Interleague Play Record: 5-5
Record At Home: 18-19
Overall Record: 38-37
Let’s Go Bucs!