Pirates Notebook: Offense walks all over Giants starter Sanchez

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Wednesday, the Pirates faced a starter who uses his struggles with finding the plate to his advantage.

Instead, the Pirates took advantage of Jonathan Sanchez's lack of control.

Sanchez had walked 31 batters in his past seven starts, including six on two different occasions. He had walked 61 batters this season and had a 1.44 WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched).

The walks hurt Sanchez Wednesday: He issued four, and all four players eventually scored in the Pirates' 9-2 win at AT&T Park.

"I've seen Jonathan throw lights out, and I've seen him put himself in some corners," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Sanchez walked Andrew McCutchen to lead off the game, and McCutchen later scored. He walked Jeff Karstens in the third, which made McCutchen's home run a two-run shot instead of a solo homer. He also walked Steve Pearce, who scored later in the third.

He walked McCutchen again in the fifth, and McCutchen scored.

"I was able to get some walks today, and it was just one of those games," McCutchen said. "They don't throw you any strikes."

At times, the wildness can help Sanchez's fastball because it keeps hitters from relaxing at the plate.

"He'll whiz a fastball by your head, then paint a slider," Pearce said. "Then whiz one way outside, then paint again. It's frustrating. You can't dig into the box, but that's why you have to go up there, and you have to hit your pitch. You can't miss it because he has stuff that will make you uncomfortable."

The Pirates walked eight times Wednesday.

One-sided lineup

To combat Sanchez's effectiveness against left-handers, the Pirates started only one left-hander, Garrett Jones. He was not originally scheduled to start, but Derrek Lee felt pain in his left hand and was scratched from the lineup.

"His hand is sore, very sore," Hurdle said.

Lee missed four games after taking a pitch off his left hand. A magnetic resonance imaging exam showed a bone contusion and a ganglion cyst, Lee said, but he returned to play Monday and Tuesday.

"We hoped to have him back in play and stay in play, and unfortunately he's played a couple games, and now he's back out," Hurdle said.

Career high for Karstens

Jeff Karstens' nine strikeouts gave him 80 on the season, surpassing his career high of 72 set in 2010.

"I wasn't worried about the strikeouts, I was more worried about keeping the game at bay," he said. "I didn't want to get too far away from my game plan."

Karstens' nine strikeouts tied James McDonald for the most by a Pirate this season. McDonald struck out nine July 25 against the Atlanta Braves.

"His pitch count goes up because he punches out nine, one of the last things you'd be drawing up from Jeff, probably, when the season started," Hurdle said.

Buried treasure

Evan Meek, who is on the 60-day disabled list because of right shoulder tendinitis, will push back his batting practice session by one day because rain delayed an earlier bullpen session. Meek will pitch one inning of batting practice Friday and two innings Monday.

Joel Hanrahan pitched a perfect ninth inning in a non-save situation. He has appeared in only four games in August, none of them in save situations.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com


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