It sure is nice to get the first win after the All-Star Break, isn't it?
The Pirates didn't really play all that badly on Friday or Saturday (at least, I didn't think so; they got slammed by bad inning from Liriano on Friday and were just one or two hits away on Saturday), but at this point in the season wins are wins and losses are losses. Garrett Jones gave the Pirates an early 1-0 lead with his tenth homer, but Jeff Locke's control wavered in the fifth inning after a strong start and he gave up the tying run after walking the Reds' seventh and eighth hitters, then throwing a wild pitch.
That set the stage for the bottom of the Pirates' lineup to bail the team out after a rough start to the weekend. Mike McKenry, who has to know how well Tony Sanchez is hitting with Indy and how limited his time with the Pirates might be, worked Homer Bailey for a 10-pitch at-bat that ended with a one-out double off of the left center-field wall. Just as Pirate fans started to wail about runners in scoring position, Jordy Mercer rolled a ground ball past Brandon Phillips to bring McKenry home. Clint Barmes followed that up with a single of his own, then Jose Tabata pinch-hit for Locke by lining the third straight single. Tabata's hit also just barely snuck under Phillips' glove.
Hurdle didn't mess around with the bullpen after that; he pulled Tony Watson after he walked Jay Bruce, then used Bryan Morris and Justin Wilson to get out of the seventh. Mark Melancon came in for the eighth and looked pretty terrible; he walked two Derrick Robinson and Chris Heisey with a Shin-Soo Choo single sandwiched in between to open the inning. He only escaped with some nifty defense by Gaby Sanchez and Clint Barmes on a 3-6-1 double play.
With the win today, the Pirates are still in pretty good shape, despite dropping the first two games to Cincinnati in this series. Their next seven games are against the Nationals and Marlins. The Nats have lost eight of their last ten, including three in a row to the Dodgers coming out of the break. The Marlins are the Marlins. I think that the Pirates have a pretty solid chance to go 5-2 or 6-1 this week, which would leave them in awfully good shape for the titantic five-game against the Cardinals in PNC Park that's just a week away.