Pirates waste another complete effort by Duke
Pirates pitcher Zach Duke throws against the Phillies during the second inning of last night's game at Citizens Bank Park.
Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez comes down with the line drive hit by Phillies catcher Paul Bako in the second inning last night.
Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino beat the tag of Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit to score on a single by second baseman Chase Utley in the third inning of last night's game.
Pirates starter Zach Duke works in the second inning of last night's game. Duke tossed his third complete game of the season, allowing five hits.
Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche tags out Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino trying to steal third base in the first inning of last night's game.
Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton fields a ground ball hit by Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit in the first inning of last night's game.
Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth catches a fly ball hit by Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit in the sixth inning of last night's game.
Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth takes a swing during the sixth inning of last night's game.
Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth follows through during the sixth inning of last night's game.
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PHILADELPHIA -- There was a time in the Pirates' 123-year history that complete-game losses for pitchers were commonplace in the National League.
As were inside-the-park home runs.
And horse carriages parked outside.
And guys named Honus at short.
Well, Babe Adams, meet Zach Duke, whose eight-inning, complete-game loss -- 3-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies last night at Citizens Bank Park -- was his second of this starcrossed season. He held the World Series champions to three runs and five hits in their bandbox, but it was not enough.
Duke's other complete-game loss, also eight innings, came May 22 in Chicago, 2-0 to the White Sox. The only other pitcher in Major League Baseball with two is the Texas Rangers' Kevin Millwood, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"Really, I'm just concentrating on giving my team a chance to win," Duke said afterward. "I'm not really the type to be thinking about my tough luck or anything like that."
It cannot be easy to avoid, considering that all his 3.29 ERA has earned him is an 8-8 record, due almost entirely to his teammates totaling seven runs for him in those eight losses.
And yet, Duke clearly has not allowed it to drag down his performance.
"It's mostly a matter of his focus and the confidence that you see, that he believes in what he's doing out there," manager John Russell said. "He was outstanding out there, except for the one inning. And, even there, we could have helped him."
• Game: Pirates vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.
• TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
• Pitching: RHP Ross Ohlendorf (7-7, 4.63) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (5-5, 4.70).
• Key matchup: Two of Adam LaRoche's three career at-bats against Hamels have been home runs.
• Of note: The Pirates' 22 triples, including five by Andrew McCutchen, rank fourth in Major League Baseball.
That was the third, when Philadelphia scored all of its runs, all after two outs.
Shane Victorino singled and, when Chase Utley did likewise to center, a change of direction in the outfield grass jolted it past a sliding Andrew McCutchen and allowed Victorino to hustle all the way around.
"Moved just enough to get by me," McCutchen said.
Next was a walk to Ryan Howard, then Jayson Werth's two-run double to left-center.
Duke retired 16 of his final 17 batters, including swinging strikeouts of the All-Stars Utley and Howard for his final two outs, with Victorino at second.
"I think it's awesome that Zach was able to do that to this team, in this park," shortstop Jack Wilson said. "His sinker was just nasty, and you could tell their guys were struggling with it because they started swinging earlier and earlier in counts."
Trouble was, the Pirates, seeking an offensive rejuvenation with Ryan Doumit and Freddy Sanchez back in the lineup, did even less with Philadelphia's Joe Blanton, mustering one run and four hits over his 7 1/3 innings, then another in the ninth.
The lone dent in Blanton's line was significant, though, as Garrett Jones slugged one of the longest home runs in stadium history in the first inning, launching a first-pitch fastball over the tall, red-brick wall beyond the 401-foot mark of the center-field fence.
The official estimate of 436 feet seemed laughably low, but this was certain: Howard was the only other player to send a ball over that brick wall, having achieved it twice.
"The wind was blowing out a little bit, but, yeah, I knew it got the good part of the bat," Jones said.
"That should almost count as two," Blanton said. "It went over two fences."
It was a Pirates legend, Willie Stargell, who hit the longest home run at the Phillies' previous home, Veterans Stadium, on June 25, 1971.
For Jones, now batting .294 in nine games, it was his third home run.
The Pirates did little between the first and ninth, but, down to their final out, Brandon Moss homered off closer Brad Lidge -- his third -- to pull them within 3-2.
Wilson singled, and the tying run was aboard for pinch-hitter Delwyn Young. Young got ahead in the count, 3-0, but took two strikes, and Lidge finished him with the trademark slider that drew a swing in the dirt.
"My mind told me to take," Young said. "My body told me to swing."
The Pirates wound up with six hits despite having, as Russell put it, "our lineup out there:" Ryan Doumit, out since April 19 because of a fractured right wrist, was activated off the disabled list, and Sanchez was back after missing a week to lower back spasms.
Doumit had been projected to return after the All-Star break, but that was moved up when he met with general manager Neal Huntington Thursday after Class AAA Indianapolis' game in Columbus, Ohio.
"The wrist feels good, from both sides of the plate," Doumit said. "I feel ready to go."
It did not show immediately: He followed his 2-for-24 minor league stint with two comebackers, a flyout and bounceout.
Sanchez fared better, 2 for 4 with a double.
The Pirates also recalled utilityman Luis Cruz from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Robinzon Diaz back there.
This was the their ninth loss in 12 games, and it dropped their record to 38-48, a season-worst 10 games under .500.
First Published July 11, 2009 12:00 am