Sanchez and Wilson sit again

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Second baseman Freddy Sanchez and shortstop Jack Wilson – part of the NL’s leading double-play team — are out of the lineup again as the Pirates return home to play the Reds at 7:05 p.m. tonight at PNC Park.

This is the fifth game in a row that Wilson (shoulder) has not started. Sanchez (shoulder) has missed his past two starts. Chris Gomez will start at second base, and Luis Rivas at short. The Pirates are playing their first game at home after an 11-day, 10-game road trip.

Lineups for today’s game against the Reds:

REDS — Chris Dickerson LF, Jeff Keppinger SS, Jay Bruce RF, Brandon Phillips 2B, Javier Valentin 1B, Edwin Encarnacion 3B, Corey Patterson CF, Paul Bako C, Edinson Volquez RHP (13-5, 2.93) PIRATES — Nate McLouth CF, Luis Rivas SS, Doug Mientkiewicz 1B, Ryan Doumit C, Andy LaRoche 3B, Brandon Moss LF, Steve Pearce RF, Chris Gomez 2B, Jeff Karstens RHP (2-0, 0.00)

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LaRoche in , Wilson and Sanchez out

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NEW YORK — Andy LaRoche is back in the lineup for the first time since Aug. 4. Jack Wilson, however, is unable to go because of tightness in his right shoulder.

“Yesterday, it felt pretty good,” Wilson said. “I thought I’d be able to go today. But it hurts. It didn’t progress the way I’d hoped it would.”

Freddy Sanchez also had an ice pack strapped to his right shoulder this morning and is not in the lineup.

Lineups for today’s game against the Mets:

PIRATES — McLouth CF, Rivas SS, Mientkiewicz 1B, Doumit C, Andy LaRoche 3B, Moss LF, Pearce RF, Gomez 2B, Duke (4-10, 5.13) LHP

METS — Reyes SS, Evans LF, Wright 3B, Beltran CF, Delgado 1B, Tatis RF, Easley 2B, Cancel C, Martinez (3-3, 5.79) RHP
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LaRoche heading to Hickory

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PHILADELPHIA — Adam LaRoche (ribcage) will catch a 5 o’clock flight this afternoon to Charlotte, N.C. Tomorrow, the first baseman will begin what should be a brief rehab assignment with low-A Hickory.

“I’ll play there a couple of days, get my swings in, and be re-evaluated,” LaRoche said. “Hopefully, I’ll be back quick. I’ll play a couple of games and go from there.”

The Pirates opted to sent LaRoche to Hickory because the schedules for Triple-A Indianapolis and Double-A Altoona weren’t conducive — off days, travel days, etc.

Andy LaRoche (thumb) will take batting practice — indoors, since the tarp is on the field — and likely will be available to pinch-hit today.

The chances of this game getting under way on time are not good. A set of heavy thunderstorms are moving into the Philly area, and might stay around a while. It could be rainy tomorrow, too, when the Pirates are slated to play a makeup game against the Mets. But that’s a worry for another day.

Lineups for today’s game against Philadelphia:

PIRATES — Sanchez 2B, Rivas SS, McLouth CF, Doumit C, Michaels RF, Moss LF, Mientkiewicz 1B, Gomez 3B, Davis (1-1, 2.57) RHP

PHILLIES — Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Werth LF, Jenkins RF, Bruntlett 3B, Ruiz C, Moyer (10-7, 3.78) LHP
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Play of the week

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PHILADELPHIA — It would be difficult to find a better defensive play than the game-ending double play the Pirates turned in the 12th inning Friday night.

“There’s no better way to end a game, especially like that,” said reliever Craig Hansen, who secured his first National League save. “I was just amazed.”

Sent out to protect a 2-0 lead, Hansen issued back-to-back, one-out walks to Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino — two of the speediest players in the National League. Chase Utley, who was hitless in his first four at-bats and stranded five baserunners, hit a blooper into shallow left-center field.

At first, left fielder Brandon Moss figured he would play the ball on the bounce and hold Utley to a one-run single.

“Then I saw it was kind of hanging up there a little bit longer than I thought, so I went for it,” Moss said. “I knew it was going to have a little bit of tail back to me, being that Utley is a left-handed hitter. I knew Nate (McLouth) was coming to back me up, so I figured I had to try for it.”

Moss made a sliding catch, snaring the ball inches above the grass. He immediately checked the runners, and was surprised to see that Rollins wasn’t too far off second base. Victorino, however, was already at the bag, just a few feet behind Rollins.

When Moss popped to his feet with the ball, Hansen was on his way to back up third base, in case the ball fell in for a hit.

“When I saw (Victorino) on second, I started yelling, ‘One! One!’ ” Hansen said, indicating the throw should to go first base.

Moss’ throw went to second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who relayed it to first in time to nail Victorino. Game over.

Someone asked Hansen if he is known as a double play pitcher. “Um … grounders, yes,” Hansen replied, grinning. “Like that, no.”

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Wilson on the shelf with sore shoulder

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PHILADELPHIA — Shortstop Jack Wilson will be out of the lineup “a couple more days,” according to manager John Russell. Wilson was a late scratch last night due to tightness in his right shoulder. “It’s the same thing I had in spring training a couple of years ago,” Wilson said.

Wilson is available to pinch hit, but cannot throw. He first noticed stiffness in his shoulder two weeks ago, during a road series against Houston.

Adam LaRoche (ribcage) is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, but may not rejoin the Pirates until later this week. LaRoche is going to take regular batting practice with the team in about a half-hour. If all goes well., he will likely leave for a brief rehab assignment to get back in game shape.

Andy LaRoche (thumb) will not play today, and probably will be out of action until Monday or Tuesday. He hit off a tee and with flip-toss today.

Lineups for today’s game against Philadelphia:

PIRATES — Sanchez 2B, Mientkiewicz 1B, McLouth CF, Doumit C, Moss LF, Pearce RF, J. Bautista 3B, Rivas SS, Snell (4-8, 6.14) RHP

PHILLIES — Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Burrell LF, Werth RF, Dobbs 3B, Coste C, Myers (4-9, 5.34) RHP
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Dumatrait has surgery, done for the year

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PHILADELPHIA — Phil Dumatrait’s season is over.

The left-hander had minor surgery this morning to repair some damage near his rotator cuff. Dumatrait has been on the disabled list since July 11 with bursitis in his throwing shoulder.

This is the second time this season Dumatrait was on the DL with shoulder pain. After his shoulder failed to respond well to rest and treatment during a rehab stint in Bradenton, Fla., Dumatrait and the Pirates opted for surgery.

“He’s done for this year,” manager John Russell said.

Also, Andy LaRoche (right thumb bruise) will not be in the lineup today. The injury is still swollen and painful, though he has regained some mobility. LaRoche hopes to be able to play either Sunday or Monday.

Adam LaRoche (ribcage strain) is hoping to take some swings today, though he has not yet gone into the cage. He probably will not travel with team for the one-game makeup game Monday in New York against the Mets. Adam LaRoche is eligible to come off the DL Tuesday.

It’s possible that Adam LaRoche could play Monday for one of the Pirates minor league affiliates as a one-game rehab assignment, then return to the Pirates on Tuesday.

Lineups for today’s game against Philadelphia:

PIRATES — Sanchez 2B, Mientkiewicz 1B, McLouth CF, Doumit C, Moss LF, Pearce RF, J. Bautista 3B, Wilson SS, Maholm (7-7, 3.95) LHP

PHILLIES — Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Burrell LF, Werth RF, Coste C, Bruntlett 3B, Blanton RHP (1-0, 4.80)

Since the end of May, Paul Maholm has notched a 3.09 ERA. That ranks second among National League left-handers behind Johann Santana’s (2.38). Also, Maholm has worked at least six innings in each of his past 16 starts.
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Capps making progress

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PHILADELPHIA — It’s not even lunch time yet, but there already are a bunch of minor roster moves to report:

— Closer Matt Capps (shoulder) has completed his workouts in the Gulf Coast League. He will make his next rehab appearance Tuesday for either Triple-A Indianapolis or Double-A Altoona. The Big Bull Rider remains on track to rejoin the Pirates by Sept. 1, if not sooner.

— Catcher Ronny Paulino, who’s been on the minor league DL since June with an ankle injury, today re-joined Indianapolis and should be in the lineup tonight. Paulino had been rehabbing in Bradenton, Fla., providing a familiar target for Capps during GCL games.

— Tonight, outfielder Jose Tabata will make his debut with Altoona. If you want to see the Pirates’ newly acquired star prospect in person, you’ll either have to drive to Harrisburg or wait a few days. The Curve are on a 10-game road trip, and don’t play against at Blair County Ballpark until July 19.

— Reliever Franquelis Osoria and outfielder Chris Duffy cleared waivers and were assigned to Indianapolis. Both were designated for assignment last week to clear space on the 40-man roster after the Jason Bay trade. I doubt we’ll ever again see either player in a Pirates uniform.

— One final item of interest …

In case you missed it in Paul Schofield’s well-reported story in today’s Trib, former Jeannette High star Terrelle Pryor is vying for the backup quarterback job at Ohio State. Pryor’s competition for the job is Joe Bauserman, who was the Pirates’ fourth-round draft pick in 2004.

Bauserman spent the past three systems in the minors. He pitched for the GCL Pirates, short-season Williamsport and low-A Hickory. Before the 2006 season, Baseball America rated his changeup as the best in the Pirates’ farm system.

Bauserman put up decent career numbers (14-12, 3.43 ERA) but lacked a killer fastball. He quit baseball because he figured he had no shot of reaching the majors, and joined Ohio State’s team as a walk-on.

Four years ago, Bauserman turned down a scholarship offer from Ohio State to sign with the Pirates.

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Not quite perfect

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PHOENIX — Today is an off day for the Pirates, so let’s go through some leftovers, notes and whatnot from Jeff Karstens’ almost-perfect game:

— First off, a great, big boo to the 28,556 fans who watched the game at Chase Field. Yes, Karstens was pitching for the other team. But when a guy comes within four outs of a perfect game — a feat attained only 17 times in major league history — it’s good baseball etiquette to give him a standing ovation after either the last out or first hit. The folks yesterday did not.

— The fans were not the only ones to diss Karstens. D’backs outfielder Chris Young, whose eighth-inning double broke up the no-no, gave Karstens practically no credit. “It was a weird game, one of the weirdest almost no-hitters you’ll ever see,” Young told the Arizona Republic. “He was giving us something to hit, but we kept flying out. So it was more of us no-hitting ourselves, I guess you could call it.”

— Young is giving himself and Arizona’s lineup way too much credit. He probably expects every Pirates pitcher to be like Yoslan Herrera, who threw nothing but wayward balls and low-speed fastballs in the series opener. “That lineup looked like the ’27 Yankees a couple days ago,” Pirates first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said. “All of the sudden, a guy’s throwing strikes, trusting his stuff and letting the guys behind him make plays.”

— Karstens changed his approach yesterday from his Pirates debut against the Cubs, when he tossed six shutout innings. “I threw a lot more fastballs this time than I did in Wrigley,” Karstens said.

— Pirates manager John Russell already has experienced a no-hitter. He was behind the plate June 11, 1990, when Nolan Ryan tossed his sixth career no-hitter. “I hit a home run in that game, too,” Russell said, whose solo shot helped Ryan and the Texas Rangers to a 5-0 victory against Oakland. Coincidentally, Russell called Ryan yesterday morning before the game against Arizona. However, Ryan, who is president of the Rangers, was in a meeting. “I’ll have a lot more to say to him when I call him back,” Russell said.

— The last pitcher to toss a perfect game was Randy Johnson, in May 2004. Johnson started yesterday’s game for Arizona. “You have to tip your hat to Jeff,” said Johnson, who briefly was Karstens’ teammate on the Yankees a couple of years ago.
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Mientkiewicz’s confession

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PHOENIX — Jeff Karstens’ bid for a perfect game would’ve ended in the first inning instead of the eighth if Jason Michaels hadn’t been able to track down two deep fly balls.

“Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good,” Karstens said. “This is a big ballpark to center field. They hit some balls deep, but J-Mike ran them down.”

Karstens has no idea how lucky he really was.

In the fourth inning, Conor Jackson hit a two-out squibber down the first base line. Doug Mientkiewicz snagged the ball, then won the race — barely — to the bag. The no-hitter rolled on for a little while longer.

Or did it?

“We got some breaks,” Mientkiewicz confessed after the game. “I don’t think I stepped on first (base).”
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Mientkiewicz-Johnson II

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PHOENIX — Lost amid all the buzz surrounding Jeff Karsten’s near no-hitter today against Arizona was the rematch between Doug Mientkiewicz and Randy Johnson.

During the June 9 game at PNC Park, Mientkiewicz stepped out of the batter’s box to break up Johnson’s rhythm on the mound. Tempers flared and both benches emptied, though no punches were thrown.

After the game, Johnson said Mientkiewicz would have left the game “on a stretcher” if Johnson had really been upset.

In the first inning yesterday, Mientkiewicz stepped into the batter’s box and quickly settled into his stance. Johnson peered in, got the sign … and then stepped off the rubber.

Message delivered.

Just in case Mientkiewicz wasn’t listening, Johnson fired a reminder. His 0-2 pitch was high and tight, forcing Mientkiewicz to lean back out of harm’s way. The at-bat ended with an easy grounder to first base.

Mientkiewicz got the last laugh, though. Mientkiewicz singled and doubled in his final two at-bats and drove in a run in the Pirates’ 2-0 victory.

After the confrontation in June, Mientkiewicz said it was obvious Johnson was “beaten down” as a pitcher. Yesterday, however, Mientkiewicz took care to be more complimentary.

“That’s the best stuff I’ve seen him have in four or five years,” Mientkiewicz said. “His ball had some life to it and the slider looked like a four-seamer, which is not normal. That’s two totally different guys, the guy we saw at PNC Park and the guy we saw today.” Johnson went 7 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits. He struck out seven.

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