Top of the lineup fuels win
Aggressiveness on the base pads at the top of the Pittsburgh Pirates (4-4) lineup has been talked extensively throughout the organization since the off-season. It’s the type of small ball they want to play in 2010.
Through 8 games, the Pirates lead the National League with 10 stolen bases and the catalyst has been center fielder Andrew McCutchen.
Tuesday night, McCutchen set the tone early with his aggressiveness. Anytime on 1st, McCutchen is proving to be a threat to get into scoring position and manager John Russell is giving McCutchen free reigns.
In the bottom of the 1st, McCutchen stole second, setting up a Garret Jones double to right that scored McCutchen to give Pittsburgh a 1-0.
In the third inning, McCutchen stole second for his 5th stolen base of the season. A Garrett Jones single moved McCutchen to third with runners at first and third.
Ryan Doumit then singled to deep right center, scoring McCutchen and the Pirates jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the third.
The aggressive game plan helped the Pirates earn their first win in San Francisco since September 2008.
While McCutchen was the Pirates catalyst on the basepads, Garrett Jones had three hits and two RBIs, including the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, leading the Pirates to a 6-5 victory.
Jones was clutch in the game at the plate and in the field, making a diving catch at first base to end the game in the 9th.
The Pirates production at the top of their lineup was impressive as Aki Iwamaura – McCutchen and Jones went a combined 6-for-14 with 4 RBI’s.
Leadoff hitter Aki Iwamura continues his strong play on the road, hitting a solo home run in the 3rd inning and going 2-for-5 with 2 RBI’s and a run scored on the night.
A turning point in the game was in the 8th inning with one out and a runner on first when Lastings Milledge hit a comebacker to reliever Jeremy Affeldt but shortstop Edgar Renteria mis-handled the throw to second for an error on the play.
Jones then hit a single into right field for his third hit of the game to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead.
Pittsburgh added two more runs in the 9th as Andy LaRoche hit is first home run of the season with one out in the ninth and Aki Iwamura added an RBI single to give the Pirates a 6-3 lead.
Starter Paul Maholm pitched five-plus innings for the Pirates, giving up three runs and eight hits, while Evan Meek (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win and Octavio Dotel held on for his second save in two opportunities.
Eugenio Velez hit a two-run homer off of Dotel with no outs in the 9th to cut the Pirates lead to 6-5.