Moss caps Pirates' fistful of home runs

His walkoff shot, two by Doumit beat nemesis Brewers, 8-7


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The way balls were soaring over PNC Park's fences yesterday, one never would have guessed the Pirates had just traded their leader in home runs.

Ryan Doumit hit two.

Andrew McCutchen also went deep.

And Garrett Jones, of course.

Then, with the first at-bat of the bottom of the ninth inning, Brandon Moss bashed a ball into the visitors' bullpen to bring an 8-7 walkoff victory against the nemesis Milwaukee Brewers before a matinee crowd of 21,186.

The Pirates' five home runs represented a season high on the same afternoon that Adam LaRoche -- who had 12 -- was traded to the Boston Red Sox. To put that into better statistical perspective, that is 7 percent of their season total of 72, which ranks 28th of Major League Baseball's 30 teams.


Today

Game: Pirates vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m., Chase Field.

TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).

Pitching: RHP Charlie Morton (2-2, 3.21) vs. RHP Dan Haren (10-5, 1.96).

Season series: Arizona won the series last year, 4-3.

Key matchup: Haren's overall numbers are impressive, but his past four games are even better: He has allowed three earned runs in a 30-inning span, held opponents to a .176 batting average, struck out 33 and walked four.

Of note: The Pirates, beginning a seven-game road trip, have lost their past four away from PNC Park, 11 of the past 13.

Catch more on the Pirates at the PG's PBC Blog.

"We had a lot of guys swinging really well," Moss said.

The climactic swing was most important, but much preceded it.

The Pirates had built a 5-2 lead on the first four home runs, one by Doumit in the first, the next three in a furious four-at-bat span of the third. All came off Jeff Suppan, and only Doumit's second -- initially called a double by reversed by instant replay that appeared to show it clanging off the yellow-striped railing above the Clemente Wall -- was anything shy of a no-doubter.

Suppan was chased after a season-low 3 1/3 innings.

"I wasn't able to make the adjustments I needed to make," Suppan said.

Neither was his counterpart: Paul Maholm gave up two home runs, including Casey McGehee's two-run shot that was part of Milwaukee's five-run fifth. Maholm was chased after 4 2/3, and the Brewers led, 7-5.

But the Pirates bounced back in the bottom half with back-to-back RBI doubles by Andy LaRoche and Ramon Vazquez, setting the stage -- after terrific relief from Joel Hanrahan, John Grabow and Matt Capps -- for Moss.

He stepped into the box against left-hander Mitch Stetter, who had held opponents to a .175 average, fully aware of what he was going to see.

"Offspeed, offspeed, offspeed," Moss said. "It's all anybody's been throwing me."

Until then, it had mostly worked: He was 0 for 3 with a walk. It appeared he was on his way to another walk, too, when he got ahead of Stetter, 3-1.

Thing is, Stetter had thrown a fastball and three sliders among his first four pitches, and Moss was able to see and time each.

That fastball was just 86 mph.

"I knew when he threw me the first fastball, he was going to try to get me out some other way," Moss said.

The sliders failing, Stetter tried another 86-mph fastball -- this time up and over the middle -- and Moss saw it, timed it and crushed it.

"I definitely didn't give in," Stetter said. "I wanted to go low and away."

"I know that the book on me right now is the slow stuff, that I'm an aggressive hitter and like the fastball," Moss said. "So, I've been trying to see a few more pitches to get to that."

Moss was mobbed at the plate by his teammates after what was, per his recollection, his first walkoff home run at any level of organized ball.

"Oh, there's nothing like it," he said. "They really beat you up once you get home -- I think Luis Cruz got me the worst -- but it's fantastic."

Moss' home run was just his fifth of the season but fourth in his past seven starts, all in the Pirates' past 15 games. His average is up to .254.

Doumit's home runs marked his fourth career multiple-output game, his first in nine games since returning from the fractured wrist.

"I'm starting to feel better, stronger up there," he said.

McCutchen's home run was his third, and Jones' was his ninth in 17 games since being promoted.

"Yeah, but they've all been solo shots," he playfully complained.

Manager John Russell was not complaining.

"Some of our power started to show a little and, hopefully, it continues," he said. "We need to swing the bats better in the second half."

The pitching highlight came in the top of the ninth when Capps, after Mike Cameron's one-out triple, struck out Ryan Braun and, after an intentional walk to Prince Fielder, struck out McGehee swinging through 96-mph high heat on an 0-2 pitch he and Doumit intended to waste.

"Just wanted to put it up and away and see if he'd chase," Capps said.

The Pirates took two of three from Milwaukee, including the rancorous opener Monday, marking their first series victory against the Brewers since Sept. 10-12, 2007, after which the Brewers took the next seven.


Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Catch more on the Pirates and join the discussion at the PBC Blog . First Published July 23, 2009 4:00 AM


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