Relievers Fall Apart In Eighth, Buccos Lose To Cubs

By Zane Heiple
Ronny Cedeno & Garrett Jones (Photo Credit: AP)
The Pirates were at it again today in game two of a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs.  Paul Maholm took the hill for the first time in 2011 and the Cubs countered with Carlos Zambrano.
It didn’t take long for the Buccos to get on the scoreboard.  With two runners on in the first inning, due to walks, Pedro Alvarez brought in his first run of the season on his first hit to make the score 1-0. 
The top of the order would once again prove effective in the third inning.  After Jose Tabata reached base, Neil Walker brought him home on a double to the right-centerfield gap to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 advantage.
Garrett Jones wasted no time in the seventh inning putting another run on the board for Pittsburgh, hitting his first homerun of the year to right field on the first pitch of the inning.  Zambrano left the game three pitches later with a cramp in his right hand.  His final line of the day would be six innings pitched, allowing three runs on five hits, with three walks and four strikeouts.
Maholm’s day also ended in the seventh inning, as he would go 6.2 innings, striking out three, walking two, and allowing five hits.  This was the second day in a row that the Pirates received a great pitching performance by their starting pitcher.  It will be performances like this that will help change the fortunes of the Buccos in 2011.  Replacing Paul was right-handed reliever Jose Veras, who would get the only batter he faced to pop out to shortstop Ronny Cedeno.
The bottom of the eighth inning had us Pittsburgh fans saying, “Here we go again.”  A three run lead was erased by the Cubs.  Evan Meek came in and laid an egg.  He walked the first batter and then gave up a run-scoring double to Starlin Castro.  Castro scored on the very next batter when Lyle Overbay committed an error on a groundball hit by Marlon Byrd.
Alfonso Soriano tied things up on a single to centerfield.  The Cubs then took a 5-3 lead when Blake DeWitt scored two runs on a bases loaded double off of reliever Chris Resop. 
Carlos Marmol came on to close the game for the Cubbies and he did exactly that, setting the Pirates down one-two-three to give Chicago a 5-3 victory.
Frustrating is the word that comes to mind on a day like this.  One bad inning was all it took to waste a great outing by Paul Maholm.  This cannot happen if the Buccos are going to remain competitive this season.  They will need a short memory since they have an opportunity tomorrow afternoon to take two out of three from the north-siders.  Ross Ohlendorf will make his first start of the season.
Record Vs. N.L. Central:  1-1
Record On The Road:  1-1
Overall Record:  1-1
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!

Zane Heiple

Zane is Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands and a weekly contributor for Armchair Report on NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, and NCAA related topics. He's also the smartest man in the world. Just ask him.

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