Jones delivers franchise's 10,000th homer
Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones is congratulated by third base coach Tony Beasley after Jones hit a solo home run off Reds pitcher Homer Bailey in the second inning of yesterday's game in Cincinnati. Jones' home run was the Pirates'' 10,000th in franchise history.
Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones is congratulated after his home run in the second inning yesterday. It was his 18th homer in 55 games as a Pirates player.
Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones fields a ground ball hit by Reds first baseman Joey Votto for an out in the fourth inning.
Pirates pitcher Zach Duke pitches against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning.
Pirates pitcher Zach Duke throws against the Reds during the sixth inning.
Pirates pitcher Zach Duke shows catcher Ryan Doumit where he was hit by a ground ball on the ankle during yesterday's game.
Reds pitcher Homer Bailey pitches against the Pirates during the seventh inning. Bailey was the winning pitcher.
Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs and second baseman Brandon Phillips congratulate each other after yesterday's win. Stubbs and Phillips both hit home runs in the game.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips celebrates after hitting a solo home run off Pirates pitcher Zach Duke in the fourth inning.
Reds closer Francisco Cordero celebrates after yesterday's win.
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CINCINNATI -- On the occasion of the 132nd game of the 123rd season of the Pirates Baseball Club, history came to pass that the franchise's 10,000th home run would be struck.
The Reds' starting pitcher yesterday afternoon was named, appropriately enough, Homer Bailey.
Garrett Jones, whose major league breakthrough began June 30, scrawled his name in Pirates lore with that blow, his 18th home run in 55 games as a Pirates player. His 13th solo shot came on a second-pitch fastball to open the second inning of a 5-3 loss against the Cincinnati Reds, and it traveled an estimated 375 feet before landing in the right-field bleachers of Great American Ball Park.
"That's a big number," the 28-year-old rookie said of the 10,000 homers.
And there were plenty of other big Pirates numbers to go along with it.
• So ended a four-game sweep by Cincinnati, marking the 12th time this season the Pirates have been broomed. Cincinnati's previous sweep of the visiting Pirates came Aug. 14-17, 1975.
- Game: Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
- TV Radio: FSN Pittsburgh WPGB-FM (104.7).
- Pitching: RHP Kevin Hart (4-4, 4.34) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (16-7, 2.47).
• So continued a seven-game losing streak, their second-longest slump in a season in which they already have compiled two eight-game slides.
• So continued an 11-game road losing streak that also encompasses defeats in 16 of their past 17, 21 of 23 and 24 of 27 away from home.
• So closer they creeped -- the Tragic Number is 3 -- to a 17th consecutive losing season that will be the longest all time among America's major professional sports.
Reds and Pirates officials had to engineer a trade, an autographed ball and bat, to pry the historic homer ball from the clutches of the fan among the announced crowd of 11,541 who snagged it in the right-field bleachers. Such a swap was yet another first for Jones.
Yet even for the Pirates' myth-in-progress at the plate, it was not enough to secure a victory.
"It's a tremendous honor," Jones said in little more than a whisper from inside perhaps the most-hushed Pirates clubhouse -- except for an expletive screamed by Joel Hanrahan -- perhaps this season.
"It feels good to get it. But it'd feel a lot better if we would've gotten the win."
Zach Duke (10-13) lost for the fourth time in his past five decisions and seventh in his past nine.
The difference this time came after the Pirates grabbed a rare lead of late in the top of the sixth inning.
But, in the bottom of the sixth, Duke allowed a leadoff homer to Drew Stubbs -- who hit three of his season's four against the Pirates this series.
Worse, Duke followed with three hits and two unearned runs that all started with an error by Pine-Richland High's Neil Walker in his major league starting debut.
In that half inning, the Pirates' 3-2 lead transformed into a 5-3 Cincinnati advantage, one the Pirates could not overcome.
Cincinnati's relievers continued to shut down the Pirates, who struck out 14 times in nine innings against them, scratching out just one run and four hits in that time.
Now, the losing road show that is the Pirates return home to PNC Park, where they are a glimmering 35-29 before entertaining St. Louis and Chicago starting tomorrow.
Their numbers away from the North Shore? The worst in the majors: 18-50.
This from the club that started the season by winning five of their first nine on the road.
They have meandered to 13-46 since, a .220 winning percentage.
"Nope," second baseman Delwyn Young said when asked if he realized the Pirates' road losing streak had reached 11.
"I mean, look at most of the ballclubs. There are, I don't know, five teams that have a winning record on the road?"
There were eight entering the games last night, and just two in the entire American League.
"It's not like we're doing anything out of the ordinary," Young added.
Well, even the club last season managed to win road games with greater regularity than these post-April Pirates (28-53). Same for the 100-loss teams of 2001 (24-57), 1985 (22-59) and even the 1952 edition considered the franchise's worst all time (19-58).
True, such a disparity in play can be ascribed to youth, this club averaging 26.4 years of age that ranks as the third-youngest Pirates team in the past half-century.
But these same kids who won seven of nine games on the previous homestand, including two final-at-bat rallies against the world champion Philadelphia Phillies, seemingly have not come close to matching those efforts in any of the seven consecutive road losses that ensued.
Or the four before that.
Or the 13 of 16 ...
"Wish we could put a finger on it," Duke said of the road woes, "so we can change it."
Number of losses that will clinch the Pirates 17th consecutive losing season. Games remaining: 30
First Published September 3, 2009 12:00 am