CHICAGO - Shock and awe.
It might be a fitting term for the Pirates' reaction to the 13-8 loss to the Chicago White Sox yesterday at U.S. Cellular Field, given that they scored the first six runs only to see Phil Dumatrait give those right back, and then some.
There was shock ...
"It seemed like everything I threw up there, they were going to hit it," Dumatrait said. "I don't know how to explain it."
And there was widespread awe, too, regarding the havoc wreaked by Chicago's top-to-bottom lineup in this most decisive of sweeps ...
Start with this: By outscoring the Pirates, 37-15, the White Sox achieved the greatest offensive output in any three-game series against the 122-year-old Pittsburgh Baseball Club since June 23-25, 1950. In that series, the Brooklyn Dodgers took two of three from the Pirates at Ebbetts Field by a cumulative score of 47-31.
- Box score
- Game: Pirates vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
- TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
- Pitching: LHP Zach Duke (4-4, 4.24) vs. RHP Roy Halladay (8-6, 3.09).
- Key matchup: Halladay, one of the sport's elite pitchers, has 31 complete games since the start of the 2003 season. That is 10 more than anyone else, and it is more than the combined total of 20 teams - including the Pirates - in that span.
- Of note: This will mark the Blue Jays' first visit to Pittsburgh. It also will mark the first time the Canadian national anthem will be played before a baseball game in Pittsburgh since July 20, 2004, the final visit from the Montreal Expos.
Yes, Brooklyn Dodgers.
• The White Sox's 15 hits yesterday made for 44 in the series, a .404 average that, essentially, made every batter who stepped into the box Ted Williams.
• They were blanked in only eight of 24 innings, set down in order just four times.
• Their 10 home runs, including two by Jermaine Dye and one by Orlando Cabrera yesterday, raised their total to 97, most in the American League. Only once in the entire series did they go as long as three innings without hitting a ball over the fence. That was a three-inning gap yesterday during which they settled for five other hits.
• The Pirates' pitchers allowed 36 earned runs for a 13.50 ERA, while walking 13, hitting two batters and committing two balks.
And all this amid a backdrop where Chicago's game-day entertainment shoots off loud fireworks after each home run, which for these few days made this city's South Side seem as if it were under a full-scale military assault.
"This is just one of those series that snowballs," Pirates manager John Russell said. "It seemed like every mistake we made, they hit it. Very hard. I wish you could explain it, but you can't. They have the ability to do that. There's a lot of power in that lineup."
No one would dispute that, but there were two other traits cited in the visiting clubhouse: One was how the White Sox seamlessly varied their swings from one-handed dinks to two-fisted liners. The other, perhaps standing out most, was how each batter appeared to be working within a strike zone the size of a matchbox.
"That's the thing," third baseman Jose Bautista said. "They just don't swing at any bad pitches."
It sounds crazy in hindsight, but the Pirates looked as if they would pull away for an easy one when they scored six times off Chicago's Gavin Floyd in the second inning.
They had bases loaded with two outs for Raul Chavez, who hit a bouncer to third. But Pablo Ozuna's throw for the forceout was wide, and everyone was safe. Nate McLouth's double into the right-field corner cleared the bases, and Freddy Sanchez lined a home run, his fourth, for two more.
That 6-0 lead lasted all of a few minutes, as the White Sox matched it in the bottom half with six of their own, highlighted by Cabrera's three-run shot that drew the tie.
"Are we going to just give up because we're down six? No," Chicago first baseman Nick Swisher said. "We battled our tails off."
Next inning, Dye made it 7-6 with a solo home run.
The Pirates answered in the fourth on Sanchez's RBI single for a fresh tie, but Chicago went right back up in the fifth, opening with three consecutive singles off Dumatrait, including Jim Thome's RBI liner just past Sanchez's glove.
The White Sox extended it to 9-7 in the sixth on Cabrera's sacrifice fly off John Grabow, and Dye's grand slam off Grabow the next inning put everything to rest.
Seeing the typically reliable Grabow get rocked might have been the most jarring sight of the week. He gave up three hits and two walks in an inning-plus.
"Just couldn't throw strikes," Grabow said.
Dumatrait could -- he walked no one -- but it did not matter much: He was chased after five-plus innings, charged with nine runs and 11 hits.
"If I threw it high, they hit it. If I threw it low, they hit it," he said, sounding much like Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny before him. "Give them credit."
Still, after pitching so effectively since joining the rotation, Dumatrait has given up 14 runs in his past two starts.
"Nothing's really different," he said. "I've made some mistakes against some good hitters, and they've made me pay."
The Pirates' 1-5 showing in interleague play has dropped them five games below .500, at 34-39, for the first time since May 7.
For the record, it also dropped them to 3-12 against teams based in Chicago, having been 3-9 against the Cubs. In those games, the Pirates' pitchers have given up 127 runs, or 8.47 per game.
Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published June 20, 2008 4:00 AM