Pirates snap three-game losing streak with 11-7 win
June 28, 2012 2:45 AM
Michael Perez/Associated Press
Pirates pitcher James McDonald talks to Ray Searage and catcher Michael McKenry after the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz hit a home run in the first inning.
By Bill Brink Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies laid their bullpen on a silver platter for the Pirates Wednesday night, and the Pirates settled in for a feast.
As the night went on, though, the Pirates' bullpen decided to join in the fun.
A doubleheader Sunday threw off the Phillies' rotation, and lacking good options in the minor leagues, they opted to march their relievers into the game for short-inning bursts. The Pirates took advantage, halting a three-game losing streak with an 11-7 win Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.
The Pirates' 14 hits set a new season high, and they had not scored 11 runs in a game since September 2010.
The Phillies bullpen had a 4.46 ERA entering the game, the sixth-worst mark in the majors. 'Starter' Raul Valdes and Joe Savery allowed a combined eight runs on seven hits and four walks.
The Phillies returned fire, scoring five runs in the sixth and seventh. They climbed back to within a run until Brad Lincoln regained control, striking out two and stranding two runners in the seventh.
Drew Sutton's RBI double and Andrew McCutchen's two-run homer off Chad Qualls in the eighth gave the Pirates some leeway.
Michael McKenry, who started his second consecutive game while Rod Barajas rests the bone bruise in his left knee, homered in his second consecutive game as well. He hit a 3-2 pitch to left field, scoring Neil Walker and Jose Tabata and giving the Pirates a 3-2 lead in the second inning.
McKenry, pressed into service for Barajas after the first inning of Monday's game, has gone 7 for 11 with two home runs in the first three games of the series.
Casey McGehee homered to in the fourth, a long shot to center field for his fourth of the year.
Later in the inning, with Walker on third, Savery intentionally walked McKenry to reach James McDonald. McDonald took off for first base on ball three. Made aware of his mistake, he returned to the plate and singled, scoring Walker and extending the lead to 5-2.
The Pirates drove home three more runs in the fifth, an inning in which they sent eight men to the plate.
Valdes allowed three runs in two innings, Savery five in 22/3.
McDonald surrendered two first-inning home runs but prevented the Phillies from doing much of anything else until the sixth inning. He allowed four runs on six hits in 52/3 innings, the first time he allowed more than three runs all season.
Chase Utley homered in his first at-bat of the season. Utley spent the better part of three months on the disabled list because of bilateral chondromalacia, or pain in both knees caused by a cartilage issue, but the Phillies activated before Wednesday's game.
Carlos Ruiz, who had commenced a blitzkrieg on Pirates pitching this series, followed Utley with his 11th homer of the season, giving the Phillies a 2-0 lead. Both home runs came with two outs.
McDonald had not allowed more than one home run in any of his starts this season. He decreased his home-run-to-fly-ball ratio, which was 11 percent last season, to 4.2 percent this year.
Three hits in the sixth gave the Phillies two more runs, and manager Clint Hurdle brought in Jared Hughes in relief of McDonald.
Hughes did his part to keep the game interesting. After Hector Luna reached on a Pedro Alvarez error in the seventh, Hughes allowed an RBI triple to Jimmy Rollins that cut the score to 8-5. Tony Watson replaced him and allowed consecutive singles to Juan Pierre and Chase Utley, scoring a run and bringing Ruiz to the plate with two men on and no outs.
Ruiz lined a ball to right field that Jose Tabata allowed to drop in front of him, scoring Pierre and cutting the lead to 8-7.
Lincoln, the third pitcher to give it a whirl in the seventh, struck out Hunter Pence by pounding him with sliders, got Shane Victorino to fly out and blew a 95 mile-per-hour fastball by pinch-hitter Jim Thome to end the inning and strand the runners.
Add in the three runs Chad Qualls allowed in the eighth, and it was an ugly game for both bullpens. The Pirates' offense got enough done to overcome the struggle.