Pirates’ bats provide fireworks in the 8th to back Snell

Ian Snell demonstrated again tonight why he’s got the lowest ERA of the Pirates’ rotation. He pitched 7 innings, allowing only 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 9 while walking only 1. Though dominant, his dominance was matched by the Brewers’ Ben Sheets, who made his first appearance after a nearly 3-month stint on the DL with shoulder tendonitis. Sheets’ performance was better than the Brewers could have hoped for, as he allowed only one run on 6 hits and struck out 5 without issuing a single walk. Both starters pitched seven solid innings, each allowing just a solo home run.

Sheets’ exit from the game marked the beginning of the end for the Brewers. Dave Bush, who is normally a starter, came in and surrendered a lead-off single to Nate McLouth. Things started to get ugly for the Brewers when Bush’s throw on Jack Wilson’s attempted sacrifice bunt sailed past the first baseman, enabling Wilson to reach second and McLouth to reach 3rd. Bush followed up his throwing error by giving up a single to Freddy Sanchez, scoring both McLouth and Wilson. Bush managed to strike out Jason Bay before giving up another single to Sean Casey. Then, with two aboard, Jeromy Burnitz lofted Bush’s offering over the fence in center to put the score at 6-1. Having already surrendered 5 runs, Bush fortunately secured the last two outs of the inning and put an end to what was a truly ugly performance.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Pirates sent in Salomon Torres, who allowed a single hit but prevented any runs from scoring. The top of the 9th saw Derrick Turnbow pitching for the Brewers. Turnbow, who recently lost his closer role with the Brewers after blowing 4 consecutive saves, made a good case tonight for his reinstatement. He delivered fastballs as fast as 98 MPH and made good use of his breaking pitches. He struck out one and induced a pop-up foul out and a fly out, preventing any baserunners. Not being a save situation for the Pirates, Matt Capps came on in the bottom of the 9th instead of the Pirates’ closer, Mike Gonzalez. Capps made short work of the Brewers, retiring them in order.

The Pirates’ win tonight brings their record to 6-6 after the All-Star Break. It was refreshing to see the Pirates in top form, providing dominant pitching, excellent fielding, and timely hitting. The biggest offensive producer of the night was Jeromy Burnitz, who helped the Pirates’ cause by going 2 for 4 with two home runs and 4 RBIs.

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July 2006

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