Pirates complete sweep

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Adam LaRoche matched his career-high with four hits and the Pirates completed a three-game sweep of the Florida Marlins with a 7-4 victory on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park.

The Pirates, who have won five of six, improved to 9-6. They haven’t been three games over .500 this late in any season since 2002. The Marlins had entered the series with the best record in baseball at 11-1.

LaRoche, a career .174 hitter in April, finished 4 for 4 with three doubles, two runs scored and one RBI. He is batting .304 this season, and is 7 for 12 with five RBI since becoming the team’s primary clean-up hitter for injured Ryan Doumit.

Paul Maholm (3-0) allowed four earned runs – twice as many as first three starts of the season combined – on eight hits in six innings, but still got his 13th win in his past 16 decisions at PNC Park.

Ricky Nolasco (1-2), who allowed five earned runs in six innings, took the loss.

Maholm’s ERA rose from 0.87, second best in the NL, to 2.02. Four Pirates relievers combined to toss three scoreless innings. Matt Capps pitched the ninth for his fifth save.

Andy LaRoche went 1 for 3 and drove in two runs, his third multi-RBI game in 63 games with the Pirates. He is batting .409 (9 for 22) since opening the season hitless in his first 18 at-bats.

Hanley Ramirez went 2 for 4 with two runs scored for the Marlins, who were swept at Pittsburgh for the first time in nearly five years.

The Pirates are off Thursday before starting a six-game road trip in San Diego and Milwaukee.

The Pirates led 3-0 after three innings, but needed a sixth-inning surge to complete their first three-game sweep of the Marlins at home in nearly five years.

With the score tied 4-all, Delwyn Young, pinch-hitting for Maholm, doubled to left-center. Nyjer Morgan followed with an RBI single to put the Pirates ahead 5-4. Morgan stole third and scored on an error by former Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino’s errant throw went into shallow left field.

Jack Wilson’s two-out single in the seventh made it 7-4.

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Pirates vs. Marlins, pre-game

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Paul Maholm (2-0), who ranks second in the National League with an 0.87 ERA, faces Ricky Nolasco (1-1, 6.60 ERA) as the Pirates try to sweep Florida at 12:35 p.m. today at PNC Park before heading away to a six-game road trip in San Diego and Milwaukee.

The weather is overcast and chilly — game-time temperature will be about 44 — but there are dozens of school buses outside, so the attendance won’t be too bad for a Wednesday matinee.

Former Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino will make his first start of the series, filling in for John Baker. Paulino, who is batting .333 in his first season with the Marlins, walked as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning last night and was greeted with a chilly reception.

Here are the starting lineups:

Marlins – 1. Emilio Bonifaco 3b, 2. Jeremy Hermida lf, 3. Hanley

Ramirez ss, 4. Wes Helms, 1b, 5. Dan Uggla 2b, 6. Ronny Paulino c, 7. Cody Ross rf, 8. Cameron Maybin cf, 9. Ricky Nolasco (1-1, 6.60 ERA)

Pirates – 1. Nyjer Morgan lf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4, Adam LaRoche 1b, 5. Brandon Moss lf, 6. Andy LaRoche 3b, 7. Jack Wilson ss, 8. Jason Jaramillo c, 9. Paul Maholm (2-0, 0.87 ERA)

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Doumit to miss 8-10 weeks after wrist surgery

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Ryan Doumit will have surgery Thursday to repair a fractured wrist and will be out eight to 10 weeks, perhaps longer.

The Pirates put Doumit on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to yesterday. Robinzon Diaz was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Doumit broke the scaphoid bone Sunday while swinging the bat. A screw or pin will be inserted to pull the bone back together. However, the recovery likely will be slow.

“It’s the bone in the wrist which gets the least amount of blood supply,” GM Neal Huntington said, “which lends to not a good prognosis for natural healing.”

Doumit will have another CT scan in four or five weeks to determine how well the bone is healing. He opted to have the surgery rather than try to play through the injury and possible have more problems in the future.

“It sucks,” Doumit said. “This is something I didn’t see coming. They told me eight to 10 weeks, but I’m hoping it could be before that.

“You do everything you can in the offseason to prepare, and we’re off to such a great start. We’ve got a good thing going. To have something like this, it’s devastating.”

Jason Jaramillo is in the lineup again tonight. Manager John Russell said Jaramillo could get most of the starts, at least initially, in Doumit’s absence.

• A short while ago, coach Perry Hill and reliever Craig Hansen pitched in and helped the grounds crew drag the tarp across the field. Gonna be another one of those nights.

• Double-A Altoona put shortstop Brian Friday on the seven-day DL with a left ear infection. Also, outfielder Jason Delaney was sent down from Indianapolis to Altoona.

• Tomorrow, the Pirates will mark Earth Day by staging a so-called “energy-free” game at PNC Park. According to the team, every dollar spent on electricity at the ballpark will be matched with a dollar for “natural energy resource development.”

In cooperation with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the team will plant a tree in local parks for every home run hit by a Pirates player this season at PNC Park.

Fans who ride bicycles to the game will get $5 off any seat costing $12 or more. The discounts will be available at a kiosk on Federal Street.

• Lineups for today’s game:

MARLINS — 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b, 2. John Baker c, 3. Hanley Ramirez ss, 4. Jorge Cantu 1b, 5, Dan Uggla 2bl, 6. Jeremy Hermedia lf, 7. Cody Ross rf, 8. Cameron Maybin cf, 9. Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 1.64) rhp

PIRATES — 1. Nyjer Morgan lf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Adam LaRoche 1b, r. Brandon Moss rf, 6. Andy LaRoche 3b, 7. Jack Wilson ss, 8. Jason Jaramillo c, 9. Jeff Karstens (0-0, 6.75) rhp.

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Doumit’s status still in limbo

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The Pirates are awaiting the results of an CT scan on Ryan Doumit’s sore right wrist before deciding whether to put their starting catcher and clean-up hitter on the disabled list.

After tonight’s 8-0 victory against the Marlins, GM Neal Huntington offered what he called “a non-update” on Doumit’s status.

After Doumit had an MRI exam this afternoon, Dr. Mark Baratz, the Pirates’ hand specialist, ordered the CT scan to better evaluate the injury and decide what steps will come next.

“It will give us a more comprehensive picture, with the respect to the injury, the diagnosis, the prognosis and the treatment going forward,” Huntington said.

That doesn’t paint a very optimistic picture. Huntington said only that they Pirates will not make any roster moves tonight, but will instead wait until all the test results come in tomorrow.

According to manager John Russell, Doumit “felt a little stretch” in the wrist as he took a swing during his second at-bat in Sunday’s game against the Braves. Doumit played out the game, but awoke Monday with swelling and significant soreness in the wrist.

X-rays were negative. “We’re hoping for the best,” Russell said before last night’s game.

If the injury to Doumit turns out to be serious enough to warrant a DL stint, the Pirates would have to call up Robinzon Diaz to give them a second catcher. Reliever Jesse Chavez, who still has minor-league options, probably would be sent to Triple-A.

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Doumit has MRI on sore wrist

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The Pirates are awaiting the results of an MRI exam on Ryan Doumit’s right wrist.

According to manager John Russell, Doumit “felt a little stretch” in the wrist as he took a swing during his second at-bat in Sunday’s game against the Braves. Doumit played out the game, but awoke this morning with significant soreness in the wrist.

X-rays were negative.

“We’re hoping for the best,” Russell said. “It was just a stretch. He didn’t feel it pop.”

Jason Jaramillo is in the lineup tonight against the Marlins. If something would happen to J.J., the emergency option would be …

“We’re looking into it,” Russell said. “I know Delwyn Young has been back there before. Until we get the results from the MRI, there’s no sense speculating.”

Young strapped on the shin guards and did some bullpen catching while he was with the Dodgers, but it would be a stretch to consider him anything but a last-resort catcher.

If the injury to Doumit turns out to be serious, the Pirates likely would send Jesse Chavez back to the minors and call up Robinzon Diaz.

Some minor league moves:

— At Class A Lynchburg, infielder Jose De Los Santos was placed on the disabled list. Right-hander R.J. Rodriguez was reassigned to Lynchburg from extended spring training

— Outfielder Butch Biela was sent from the Class A West Virginia Power to extended spring training. He was replaced by outfielder Austin McClune. Also, power right-hander Wilson Ortiz went on the seven-day DL with inflammation in his shoulder. Righty Kyle McPherson was called up from extended spring training to take Ortiz’s spot.

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Waiting in the rain

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This is the Marlins’ only scheduled trip to Pittsburgh, so expect both teams to do whatever it takes to play this three-game series at PNC Park, despite the downpours expected today, tomorrow and Wednesday. As I type this (at 3:15 p.m.) the tarp is on the field and rain is falling, but there is no word — yet — about postponing the game.

• Ryan Doumit gets the day off, so Craig Monroe slides into the cleanup spot against lefty Andrew Miller. Jack Wilson bats seventh ahead of backup catcher Jason Jaramillo.

• Lineups for today’s game:

MARLINS — 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b, 2. John Baker c, 3. Hanley Ramirez ss, 4. Jorge Cantu 1b, 5, Dan Uggla 2bl, 6. Jeremy Hermedia lf, 7. Cody Ross rf, 8. Cameron Maybin cf, 9. Andrew Miller (0-0, 6.43) lhp

PIRATES — 1. Nyjer Morgan lf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Craig Monroe rf, 5. Adam LaRoche 1b, 6. Andy LaRoche 3b, 7. Jack Wilson ss, 8. Jason Jaramillo c, 9. Ross Ohlendorf (0-2, 4.91) rhp.

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Morgan turns on the speed

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What should have been a routine grounder by Nyjer Morgan instead turned into an adventure.

With one out in the eighth inning, Morgan hit a hard bouncer up the middle. Reliever Jeff Bennett snagged the ball before Morgan was even halfway down the line.

However, Bennett threw the ball over the head of first baseman Casey Kotchman.

“I honestly thought the ball went by him,” Morgan said. “That’s why I didn’t run hard out of the box. I definitely didn’t want my teammates seeing that there was no hustle there — I was kind of feeling bad a little bit — so I kicked it up a couple of notches when I was going around the bases.”

The ball rolled into shallow right field. Morgan easily made it to third base on the error.

The Pirates, however, wasted the scoring chance. Freddy Sanchez popped up on the infield and Delwyn Young struck out.

• After giving up 11 runs today against the Braves, the Pirates’ team ERA jumped up more than a half-point to 3.34. The Pirates began the day with the lowest team ERA in the majors.

• Double-A Altoona is the last team in professional baseball to win a game this year. The Curve had lost eight straight until a 7-5 victory Saturday against Erie. One bright spot: Altoona batters have struck out just 49 times, the lowest total in the Eastern League.

• Saturday’s game was briefly delayed in the top of the eighth inning while the grounds crew worked on the pitcher’s mound.

“Atlanta (pitchers) dug a mine-hole in there,” Ian Snell said. “It was huge. You’d get in it and it’d cause you to lean over to the left.”

• Right-hander Michael Dubee, who was acquired Friday when Andy Phillips was traded to the White Sox, was assigned to Class A Lynchburg. Pitcher R.J. Rodriguez was re-assigned to extended spring training.

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Wilson back in the lineup

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Jack Wilson, who sprained his left middle finger in the home opener, returns to the lineup this afternoon.

• With the Pirates leading 10-0 in the ninth inning yesterday, it might have seemed a good spot to use Rule 5 pickup Donnie Veal for an inning of relief. Manager John Russell and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan discussed it, but ended up going with righty Jesse Chavez. “Chavez needed to get out there,” Russell said. Chavez tossed a 1-2-3 inning, striking out Brian McCann to end it, in is first outing in three days.

• Lineups for this afternoon’s (hopefully not rain-delayed) game:

BRAVES — 1. Omar Infante 22, 2. Martin Prado 2b, 3. Chipper Jones 3b, 4. Garret Anderson lf, 5. Jeff Francoeur rf, 6. Casey Kotchman 1b, 7. David Ross c, 8. Jordan Schafer cf, 9. Javier Vazquez (0-1, 4.50) rhp.

PIRATES — 1. Nyjer Morgan lf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Adam LaRoche 1b, 6. Brandon Moss rf, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Wilson ss, 9. Zach Duke (2-0, 0.59) lhp.

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Two outs … or was that three?

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In the second inning today, Ian Snell froze Atlanta’s Jordan Schafer with a changeup for strike three. Snell, catcher Ryan Doumit and third baseman Andy LaRoche began walking back to the dugout.

There was only one problem.

Schafer’s strikeout was the inning’s second out, not the third.

“I’d never struck anybody out with a changeup before, so I got a little excited and thought it was three outs,” Snell deadpanned. “I felt so dumb afterwords, because then I walked the pitcher and that was worse.”

Then again, the way Snell was breezing through the Braves’ lineup, it might have been easy to get confused.

“I saw Doumit get up and start walking (off the field), so I was like, all right …” Snell said, with a laugh. “Nah, it was my fault.”

Doumit, however, pointed the finger elsewhere.

“Actually, Andy LaRoche faked us out,” Doumit said. “It was strike three and I went to throw it to third base, and I saw Andy trotting off the field. I thought he knew something I didn’t, so I kind of followed suit. I saw Nate and everybody else break, so … it was one of those weird things.”

Snell stopped before he got all the way off the field and was laughing as he went back onto the mound. He walked Jo-Jo Reyes on five pitches, then got Kelly Johnson on a fly ball for the bona fide third out.

• Through his first two starts this year, Snell was on an unhealthy pace for 12.6 hits allowed per nine innings pitched. That easily was the worst of his career, surpassing the averages of 11.0 hits last season and 10.5 hits in 2004, his debut year.

Today’s start, however, was very encouraging. Snell gave up just four hits, three of them singles, in seven innings. And every batter who singled was erased on a double play.

• Jason Jaramillo wore a Penn State baseball t-shirt today to the ballpark. That doesn’t mean Jaramillo has given up on his alma mater, Oklahoma State.

“Penn State’s coach (Robbie Wine) recruited me to Oklahoma State,” Jaramillo said. “I’ve kept in touch with him over the years.”

Wine is in his fourth season as the Nittany Lions’ manager. Before that, he was the hitting coach at Oklahoma State.

Penn State pitching coach Jason Bell also worked with Jaramillo at Oklahoma State.

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Wilson out of lineup again

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Still bothered by a sore left middle finger, shortstop Jack Wilson is out of the starting lineup for the third time in four days.

• Lineups for today’s game:

BRAVES — 1. Kelly Johnson 2b, 2. Omar Infante ss, 3. Garret Anderson lf, 4. Brian McCann c, 5. Casey Kotchman 1b, 6. Jeff Francoeur rf, 7. Martin Prado 3b, 8. Jordan Schafer cf, 9. Jo-Jo Reyes lhp

PIRATES — 1. Nyjer Morgan lf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Adam LaRoche 1b, 6. Craig Monroe rf, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Ramon Vazquez ss, 9.Ian Snell rhp.

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