Sore hammy benches Morgan


Left fielder Nyjer Morgan will be out of action for at least two days after tweaking his left hamstring.

Morgan felt what he said was “a little, baby tug” in his leg as he made a running catch of Troy Tulowitzky’s fly ball in the eighth inning Friday. It’s the same hammy Morgan hurt last season when he stepped awkwardly on first base in Milwaukee.

“It’s not bad,” Morgan said. “I could play, but I’d rather look after it. It’s a long year, and I don’t want to aggravate it. I don’t want to be a punk, but I have to be smart about it.”

Morgan ranks second among National League leadoff hitters with a .384 on-base percentage and third with a .304 batting average.

• Tonight, Delwyn Young is batting leadoff and playing in right field. Brandon Moss is in left. Manager John Russell likes what he’s seen so far from Young.

“I really like his approach,” Russell said. “He’s not a free-swinging guy, but he’s got the ability to drive the ball. He keeps a very solid base, which keeps him on balance, which gives him a chance to make a better pass at the ball. He uses the whole field and he can drive the ball to both sides.”

Russell did not want to move Nate McLouth out of the No. 3 hole, but someone atop the lineup with Morgan on the shelf. Young’s approach is patient enough for Russell to be confident in him at the leadoff spot.

“We needed a guy who’s going to see some pitches and not be a three-and-out type guy,” Russell said. “(Young) is going to work the count a little bit. But if he gets a pitch to hit, he’s got the ability to drive it.”

As a starter, Young can afford to show more patience at the plate than he can when he’s pinch-hitting.

“He’s got a good knack for hitting fastballs,” Russell said. “The thing I was taught when I started pinch-hitting late in my career was, ‘Thou shalt not let a fastball go by.’ It made a lot of sense once I started doing it, because once you (let one go by), you probably won’t see another one. I think (Young) has that ability — once he sees a good pitch to hit, he’s ready to hit it. But also as a starter, he has the patience to wait for a good pitch to hit. At a young age, that’s not easy to do.”

• The Pirates and Cincinnati Reds will play a day/night doubleheader Aug. 31 at Great American Ballpark. The 1:10 p.m. game is a makeup of the April 10 game which was rained out. The regularly scheduled game will start at 7:10 p.m.


Romulo Sanchez traded to Yanks


The Pirates today traded right-hander Romulo Sanchez to the Yankees for righty Eric Hacker.

Hacker, 26, went 1-2 with a 6.03 ERA in six starts this season for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He got 20 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.

Hacke was assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. To make room for Hacker on the 40-man roster, lefty Phil Dumatrait (shoulder) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

• Lineups for today’s game:

ROCKIES — 1. Dexter Fowler cf, 2. Troy Tulowitzky ss, 3. Todd Helton 1b, 4. Brad Hawpe rf, 5. Ryan Spilboroghs, 6. Ian Stewart 3b, 7. Chris Iannetta c, 8. Clint Barmes 2b, 9. Aaron Cook rhp

PIRATES — 1. Delwyn Young rf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Adam LaRoche 1b, 5. Brandon Moss rf, 6. Andy LaRoche 3b, 7. Jason Jaramillo c, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Ian Snell rhp


Monroe in cleanup spot


Craig Monroe today makes just his seventh appearance in the starting lineup and his second time in the cleanup spot. Adam LaRoche drops to fifth and Brandon Moss, who’s 2 for 10 vs. lefties, is on the bench.

Lineups for today’s game:

ROCKIES — 1. Dexter Fowler cf, 2. Troy Tulowitzky ss, 3. Todd Helton 1b, 4. Garrett Atkins 3b, 5. Brad Hawpe rf, 6. Ryan Spilboroghs, 7. Chris Iannetta c, 8. Clint Barmes 2b, 9. Jorge De La Rosa (0-3, 3.53) lhp

PIRATES — 1. Nyjer Morgan cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Craig Monroe rf, 5. Adam LaRoche 1b, 6. Robinson Diaz c, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Paul Maholm (3-1, 4.06) lhp


Will Pirates follow Steelers’ draft path?


When’s the last time the Pirates and Steelers both raided the University of Missouri for their respective first-round draft picks?

A few weeks ago, the Steelers used their No. 1 pick on Mizzou defensive tackle Ziggy Hood. In a mock draft posted online today, Baseball America guru Jim Callis predicts the Pirates on June 9 will select Missouri right-hander Kyle Gibson.

It’s no stretch to think the Pirates will take a pitcher with their first pick. Management remains deeply concerned about the lack of pitching depth in the farm system. The war room team probably will lean toward taking a college guy, expecting to see a more rapid rise toward the majors.

Even after all-galaxy pitcher Stephen Strasburg is snapped up No. 1 overall by the Nats, there will be plenty of quality arms available when the Pirates choose at No. 4.

Gibson, a junior, is 6-feet-6, 208 pounds. In 13 starts, he is 9-3 with a 3.73 ERA. Gibson has pitched 91 2/3 innings with 84 hits and 15 walks allowed and 115 strikeouts. He has accounted for more than 25 percent of the Mizzou pitching staff’s strikeout total this season. He throws a fastball (usually in the high 80s, but touches 93 mph), slider (his best pitch) and change-up.

This afternoon, GM Neal Huntington was in Chestnut Hill, Mass., to see North Carolina righty Alex White pitch against Boston College. White (7-3, 3.38 ERA) went seven innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits.

If the Pirates opt to draft White, they’d better prepare for another round of tough contract negotiations. White’s adviser is Scott Boras — whom you may remember as the puppeteer behind last year’s holdout by Pedro Alvarez.

Two other players Huntington scouted yesterday: UNC first baseman Dustin Ackley and BC catcher Tony Sanchez. Ackley almost certainly will be gone before the Pirates make their first pick. Sanchez could be available when the Pirates use their supplemental first-round pick (49th overall).

Another pitcher who could be candidate for the Pirates is Aaron Crow, another Mizzou guy. He’s pitching for Fort Worth in the Independent League after failing to sign with the Nats last year.


Hinske starts at 3B


Eric Hinske will make his first start at third base for the Pirates, as Andy LaRoche is getting the night off. Hinske has 418 career starts at third, but this will be just his 10th since the beginning of the 2006 season.

# Lineups for today’s game:

CARDINALS — 1. Skip Schumaker 2b, 2. Shane Robinson rf, 3. Albert Pujols 1b, 4. Chris Duncan lf, 5. Yadier Molina c, 6. Colby Rasmus cf, 7. Tyler Greene 3b, 8. Joe Thurston 3b, 9. Mitchell Boggs (1-0, 3.50) rhp

PIRATES — 1. Nyjer Morgan cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Adam LaRoche 1b, 5. Robinson Diaz c, 6. Eric Hinske 3b, 7. Brandon Moss rf, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Jeff Karstens (1-1, 5.19) rhp


Pirates-Cards post-game notes


• Oh, is it nice to have Jack Wilson back.

The shortstop, in his second game since returning from the 15-day disabled list, went 3 for 4 with one run and one RBI and a pair of nice defensive plays.

He made a sliding back-handed stab and threw out Molina at first base in the second. He also made a nice play in the fourth on Shane Robinson’s high chopper.

Leftfielder Nyjer Morgan tracked down a long drive by Khalil Greene to the warning track in left-center.

But the nicest play of the game — if not the season — goes to Sanchez, who robbed Albert Pujols of a base hit in the eighth inning with a diving grab on the other side of second base and strong throw to first.

Brandon Moss, who had a bird’s eye view from right field, called it one of the best plays he’s ever seen.

Sanchez wasn’t done. He also started the game-ending double play, pairing with Wilson.

• Catcher Robinzon Diaz said his left forearm is fine after being hit by a pitch. Diaz, batting .357, had a large ace bandage and some ice on his arm after the game, the result of a Joel Pineiro fastball that started a three-run sixth-inning.

• Pitcher Ross Ohlendorf reported no pain from the line drive off Yadier Molina’s bat that caught him in the fifth inning.

• Ohlendorf, who allowed one run on two hits in six innings, was using three pitches effectively — the four-seam fastball, slider and change-up.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander said he used the four-seam fastball on Wednesday night after using a lot of two-seamer in the previous two starts against the Cards.

“I’ve thrown so many two-seamers into the righties the first two times against them, it would be good for me to throw some four-seamers away,” he said.

• Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said the umpires got it right when they overturned Adam LaRoche’s first-inning home run, and based on every available replay, they did.

Said Pirates manager John Russell, “It’s a tough call to make at that time of the night.”

– By John Grupp


Pirates beat Cardinals 5-2


Turns out the Pirates didn’t need Adam LaRoche’s home run after all.

The Pirates got a strong start from Ross Ohlendorf and balanced hitting to beat the first-place St. Louis Cardinals, 5-2, on Wednesday night at PNC Park in a game that included the first home run reversed by instant replay in major league history.

The night featured some dazzling defensive plays by Pirates middle infielders Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson; an overdue win against the Cards for snake-bitten Ohlendorf (4-3) and some weirdly timed cheers as the multi-tasking fans kept tabs on the Penguins’ lopsided Game 7 victory over the Capitals.

It was the second win in a row for the Pirates – their first two-game winning streak since April 25-26 – and comes on the heels of an eight-game losing streak.

Ohlendorf and four Pirates relievers scattered six hits, as the Pirates held down one of the NL’s highest-scoring teams for the second night in a row. Matt Capps got the final two outs for his sixth save.

The Pirates tagged Cardinals starter Joel Pineiro (4-3) for five runs on 11 hits in six innings, including five doubles in their first 17 batters.

Wilson went 3 for 4 and Adam LaRoche, Brandon Moss and Sanchez each had two hits.

Albert Pujols barely missed a three-run homer in the top of the ninth – it curved foul by a couple off feet of closer Matt Capps — but after a one-run single, Capps got clean-up hitter Chris Duncan to ground into a game-ending double play.

The game started with a controversial play. LaRoche’s apparent two-run homer in the first inning to right was overturned after the umpires consulted the instant replay.

It was the first time since instant replay was installed last August that a player had a home run taken away.

- By John Grupp


Cards-Pirates pre-game notes


· Right fielder Brandon Moss, who hit his first home run of the season and snapped out of an 0-for-15 funk Tuesday night, was noticeably more upbeat this afternoon. But he’s not even close to resting on any laurels.

“It does feel like a monkey off my back,” he said. “(But) it’s only my second multi-hit game of the season. That’s not good when you’re 30 games into the season.”

Moss (.200) is batting seventh again tonight.

· Cardinals right-fielder Ryan Ludwick, who strained his right hamstring in Tuesday’s game with the Pirates, was placed on the 15-day disabled list today. The Cardinals recalled outfielder Nick Stavinoha. Shane Robinson is starting in right field and batting second, the Cardinals’ 33rd different lineup in 34 games this year.

· After batting the pitcher eighth in two of the past three games against the Pirates, manager Tony La Russa went with the conventional lineup tonight. Each of the past four games against the Pirates, Joel Pineiro was in the No. 9 hole. Pineiro is a career .087 batter (9 for 104).

· It’s not an accident the Pirates are getting a lot of opposing batters to swing at two-strike pitches in the dirt. Manager John Russell said the athleticism of catchers Robinzon Diaz and Jason Jaramillo allows the pitchers to take more chances with bouncers in front of the plate to take advantage of anyone pitching coach Joe Kerrigan tags as a notoriously aggressive hitter.


Cardinals, Pirates lineups, Diaz batting fifth again


Catcher Robinzon Diaz is batting fifth for the second game in a row, as the Pirates take on the St. Louis Cardinals at 7:05 tonight at PNC Park in the second game of a three-game series. … Clouds in the sky, and some rain in the forecast.

Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf gets his second start against the Cards in six days and his third of the season. The most recent being the excellent effort, minus the meltdown four-run fifth, in a 5-2 loss in St. Louis. … More after I return from the clubhouse.

CARDINALS – 1. Skip Schumaker 2b, 2. Shane Robinson rf, 3. Albert Pujols 1b, 4. Chris Dunvan lf, 5. Yadier Molina c, 6. Colby Rasmus cf, 7. Khalil Greene ss, 8. Joe Thurston 3b, 9. rhp Joel Pineiro (4-2, 3.66).

PIRATES – 1. Nyjer Morgan, lf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Adam LaRoche 1b, 5. Robinzon Diaz c, 6. Andy LaRoche 3b, 7. Brandon Moss rf, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. rhp Ross Ohlendorf (3-3, 4.14 ERA)

— By John Grupp


Wilson happy to be back


Manager John Russell is happy to have shortstop Jack Wilson back in the lineup.

“He’s kind of a solidifying force, especially on defense,” Russell said.

Last weekend, Wilson played in two games for Triple-A Indianapolis during his rehab assignment. Wilson took himself out of Indy’s lineup Sunday after deciding he was ready to rejoin the Pirates.

“I enjoyed being down there with the kids,” Wilson said. “They’re a bunch of good guys, and I enjoyed working with them.” Last year, Wilson played in four games for Indy and seven with Double-A Altoona on another rehab stint.

When asked how the Pirates’ prospects looked at Indy, Wilson gave a big thumbs-up for outfielder Andrew McCutchen: “I think he’s the most (major league)-ready out of anybody there. He’s a game-changer with his speed and the way he approaches the game. When his turn comes, I think he’s going to do all right.”

McCutchen is batting .254 with a homer, nine RBI and five stolen bases in 29 games for Indy. He ha a .773 OPS and has not committed an error.

(Updated) lineups for tonight’s game:

CARDINALS — 1. Skip Schumaker 2b, 2. Khalil Greene ss, 3. Albert Pujols 1b, 4. Ryan Ludwick rf, 5. Yadier Molina c, 6. Chris Duncan lf, 7. Tyler Greene 3b, 8. 8 Todd Wellemeyer (3-2, 4.75) rhp, 9. Shane Robinson cf

PIRATES — 1. Nyjer Morgan cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Nate McLouth cf, 4. Adam LaRoche 1b, 5. Robinson Diaz c, 6. Andy LaRoche 3b, 7. Brandon Moss rf, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Zach Duke (3-3, 2.79) lhp