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McDonald Solid, Bucs Bats Break Out in 9-3 Win


The Pittsburgh Pirates bats came out swinging on Monday night in Atlanta in the Bucs 9-3 win over the Braves at Turner Field. For the first time this season, the Pirates scored more than five runs in a game. The last time they plated five runs or more was on September 26th, 2011.

After trailing Atlanta 2-0 through two, the Pirates were able to even up the game in the 3rd. Rod Barajas drew a walk off Braves starter Mike Minor. With one out, Jose Tabata lined a double into left field. Josh Harrison, who made his second career start at shortstop, hit a RBI single into left field. Andrew McCutchen hit a sac fly to center field to tie the game at 2.

Third baseman Pedro Alvarez crushed a first pitch fastball for a two-run homer to right field — off a lefty pitcher — in the fourth inning. It marked his third hit in over eight at-bats against a lefty and his fifth long ball of the 2012 season.

The long ball came through for the Pirates again in the sixth inning. Yamaico Navarro hit a 3-1 fastball from Minor for a line drive homer to left field — his first as a Pittsburgh Pirate. Neil Walker led off the frame with a single into right.

The Pirates tacked on three more runs in the seventh. Jose Tabata drew a walk and McCutchen singled to put runners on the corners. While Casey McGehee was batting, a passed ball by Mike Minor scored the first run of the inning. McGehee walked and Neil Walker followed by ripping a RBI single to right field. Navarro picked up his third RBI of the game by grounding into a force out to plate the third run of the inning.

Right-hander James McDonald allowed three runs on seven hits over 7.2 innings. He walked two and struck out 10 batters while throwing 114 pitches, 72 for strikes. McDonald snapped his five game road losing streak with his first win of the 2012 season. His last win away from PNC Park was at Turner Field on July 25, 2011 when he struck out a career high nine batters while tossing 5.1 scoreless innings. McDonald’s 10 whiffs passed lefty Erik Bedard, who had a season-high nine. They are also a career-high for the righty.

The Braves scored two runs off McDonald in the first frame. Michael Bourn hit a leadoff single, but was caught trying to swipe second. McDonald walked his next batter on five pitches. Freddie Freeman took the first pitch fastball hung over the plate for a line drive two-run homer to right field.

The third and final run allowed by McDonald came in the fourth. Dan Uggla led off the inning with a double into center field. After advancing to third on a ground out, Uggla scored on a RBI single by Erik Hinske to center field.

With the 9-3 win, the Pirates improve to 10-12 on the season and split the four-game series with Atlanta.

Game Notes:

  • Relief — Chris Resop: 1.1 IP, H, K
  • Yamaico Navarro got the start in left field for the Bucs. He went 2-for-4 with two runs, a homer and three RBI.
  • The starting eight each collected at least one hit off the Braves. Only Josh Harrison of the starting eight didn’t score a run.
  • Tony Watson has allowed just two of his Major League high 15 inherited runners to score this season. Pittsburgh’s bullpen has posted a 3.00 ERA, which ranks fourth in the National League entering game action on Monday.
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