Neither a rain delay nor the hot-hitting Giants could stop James McDonald from earning his ninth win of the season as the Pirates beat the Giants, 3-1.
McDonald struck out 10 batters, one shy of his season high, without allowing a walk. He gave up one run on four hits in seven innings. It was his 12th quality start in 17 outings this season, and he heads into the All-Star break with a 2.37 ERA, the best among all Pirates starters by more than one run.
The game was delayed 27 minutes by a thunderstorm in the bottom of the third inning, but McDonald emerged from the break as dominant as he looked before it. He threw 106 pitches, 77 for strikes.
McDonald became the first Pirates pitcher since Jason Schmidt on Sept. 23, 1996 to strike out 10 or more batters without allowing a walk in at least seven innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
It was McDonald's fifth consecutive start following a Pirates' loss, and the team is 4-1 in those games. He also contributed on the offensive end, drawing a walk and singling in two plate appearances. He scored the Pirates' first run of the game.
Former Pirate Ryan Vogelsong took the loss for the Giants (46-39), allowing three runs on eight hits in seven innings. He struck out five batters.
Catcher Michael McKenry belted his seventh home run of the season in the fourth inning, extending the Pirates' lead to 2-0. He blasted a 1-1 changeup that Vogelsong left up in the strike zone and parked it in the left field seats.
The seven home runs tie him with fellow catcher Rod Barajas for the fourth most on the team. McKenry has seen increased playing time in recent weeks after Barajas sustained a bone bruise in his left knee.
McKenry finished two for three with the home run and a double.
Through the fourth inning, the Pirates (47-37) had four hits, all extra-base hits.
The Giants cut the Pirates' lead in half in the sixth inning, the first in which they really tested McDonald. Gregor Blanco hit a two-out single to right field, only the Giants' third baserunner of the game. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored when Ryan Theriot singled through to the middle of the infield to make it 2-1.
McDonald threw 26 pitches in the inning, cramping what had been an efficient game for him up to that point.
The Pirates got the run back in the bottom half of the inning. Andrew McCutchen led off the inning with a single and scored three batters later when Pedro Alvarez cranked a line drive that bounced off the left-field wall for a double.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the third inning behind Neil Walker's second double of the game. With McDonald on first, having drawn a leadoff walk, Walker slapped a low-flying line drive to left-centerfield. McDonald scored from first, standing up as he crossed home plate.
Michael Sanserino: email@example.com, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino. First Published July 7, 2012 11:00 PM