Pirates blanked again, by blazing Jimenez, 8-0
Pirates starting pitcher Kevin Hart works against the Rockies in the first inning.
Rockies starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez works against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 8-0 loss.
Pirates' Andy LaRoche avoids an inside pitch against the in the fifth inning.
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DENVER -- It would be easy to isolate on Kevin Hart.
He lasted just five-plus innings in the Pirates' 8-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies last night, charged with five runs.
Or, one could focus on Lastings Milledge.
His ponderous jump in left field, followed by an errant relay, turned what looked to be a Troy Tulowitzki single into a rally-starting triple in the sixth.
There is even reliable Andrew McCutchen.
He came up with bases loaded in the fifth, right after the pitcher walked, and swung at the first pitch for the final out.
Alas, none of it mattered much when compared to how the lineup as a whole fared against Colorado's ultra-gifted Ubaldo Jimenez: In his eight innings, there were three singles and, other than the McCutchen at-bat, not a second of suspense. He blazed his fastball at 97-99 mph, had his customary but uncommon sink even at those velocities, and mixed speeds to keep batters from timing him.
- Game: Pirates vs. Colorado Rockies, 3:10 p.m., Coors Field.
- TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
- Pitching: LHP Paul Maholm (6-6, 4.76) vs. RHP Jason Marquis (12-8, 3.65).
- Key matchup: Lots of potential potholes for Maholm: Garrett Atkins is 7 for 14 off him, Clint Barmes 6 for 11, Troy Tulowitzki 5 for 8.
- Of note: The Pirates, 12-23 by day, play their next four games in the afternoon.
The Pirates, who finished with four singles, were shut out for the 14th time, three more than any other team in Major League Baseball, but this was not one of those where they were kicking themselves.
"He was dominating," manager John Russell said of Jimenez. "It's going to be tough to do anything with a guy throwing the ball like that."
"He was throwing so hard, and he was elevating his fastball just enough that it was hard to get on top of it," first baseman Garrett Jones said.
Because of that, Jones and other players explained, they chased pitches they usually might not. Jimenez walked four, hit a batter and threw 50 balls among his 119 pitches, but ...
"The last thing you want to do when someone's throwing like that is fall behind," Milledge said.
Jimenez is an ordinary 10-9 with a 3.65 ERA, but he also is 25 years old and in his second full season, and his start last night was the 20th in a row where he delivered at least six innings.
He said he was motivated by the Rockies' bullpen being overworked of late, including 6 1/3 innings in losing to the Pirates, 7-3, Tuesday.
"I took the challenge personally," Jimenez said. "Those guys have been pitching a lot, and I didn't want that tonight."
The Pirates had, as Russell noted, "really only one inning where we threatened," and that came when McCutchen followed Hart's five-pitch walk by grounding Jimenez's first-pitch fastball to shortstop. The Rockies' lead was just 3-0 at that point.
McCutchen, one of the most patient hitters in the lineup, expressed no regret.
"I got my pitch, the one I wanted," McCutchen said. "But that guy's throwing pretty hard, and it's hard to square up."
Jimenez's closing pitch of the evening, intended to be down and away, sailed way up and drew a swing and miss from Jones.
Hart was about as so-so in this one as in his Pittsburgh debut last week: He looked sharp at times, mixing his 95-mph fastball with effective slow stuff, but he also allowed eight hits, most of those stung with authority.
Here again, though, credit went to the opponent.
Seth Smith singled with Colorado's first at-bat, and Carlos Gonzalez impressively sliced a full-count fastball -- 94 mph, located over the outer corner -- inside the left foul pole for a 2-0 lead.
"You've got to tip your cap to him on that one," Hart said. "It was a good sinker down and away, he put good wood on it, and the ball's going to carry here."
How did Hart feel overall?
"I feel like I did an OK job getting ahead, but I didn't execute on 0-2. I just couldn't put guys away. At this level, you're just not going to have success like that."
Hart had seven 0-2 counts, only one of which resulted in a strikeout, three of which led into hits.
"I thought he pitched pretty well," Russell said. "He battled. When he gave up that early home run, he rebounded."
Clint Barmes' RBI single in the fourth brought another, and the Rockies chased Hart with one out in the next inning: Tulowitzki hit his triple, Brad Hawpe doubled him home and, after an out, Barmes added an RBI double to make it 5-0.
On the triple, Milledge appeared to break slowly to the ball, then, after getting close, elected not to dive as it continued to the track.
"That ball's in the gap, and that's a fast track," Milledge said. "The throw made more of a difference than anything."
Milledge's throw stopped short of shortstop Ronny Cedeno, something Tulowitzki clearly spotted as he rounded second.
Jeff Karstens, struggling of late, gave up three more runs in the eighth.
The Pirates will try today to take their first road series since winning three of four in Washington May 18-21.
The franchise record for being shut out, 27 times in 1916, would appear safe.
First Published August 13, 2009 12:00 am