Game 2: Doumit delivers

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

CHICAGO — Ryan Doumit went 4 for 4 with four RBI on Wednesday night, powering the Pirates past the Chicago Cubs, 8-2. The Pirates also won the day’s first game, 4-0, giving them their first doubleheader sweep at Wrigley Field since June 20, 1983.

“I can’t remember the last time we won at Wrigley Field, let alone two games in one day,” Doumit said.

The last time the Pirates won both ends of a twinbill, home or away, was Sept. 19, 2004, against the New York Mets at PNC Park. The Pirates hadn’t swept a road doubleheader since Sept. 15, 1996, at San Francisco.

Jeff Karstens (4-5) worked five solid innings in a spot start for the victory. The right-hander allowed two runs on five hits and struck out one.

“I think he’s back on track,” manager John Russell said. “He actually gave us more than we thought we were going to get tonight. He was very efficient; I think that’s why he was able to go deep.”

Karstens needed only 61 pitches (44 strikes) to get through five innings.

Relievers Donnie Veal, Steven Jackson, Jesse Chavez and Virgil Vasquez combined for four scoreless innings.

Lastings Milledge’s RBI single in the first inning gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead. They tacked on three runs in the third against Carlos Zambrano (9-7). Doumit had a two-run double and Brandon Moss an RBI single.

In the ninth, Doumit crushed his 10th homer of the year, a solo shot to right off Carlos Marmol. That gave Doumit his third career four-RBI game and his fifth four-hit game.

“It’s been a trying year, not only for me personally but for the team as well,” Doumit said. “Just to get some piece of mind, to finish strong, is good. Unfortunately, it’s taken me all the way to September to kind of find my swing. But it will carry over.”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Game 1: Morton blanks Cubs

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

CHICAGO — Charlie Morton got a measure of payback Wednesday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs.

Morton tossed his first career shutout, scattering four hits to pace the Pirates to a 4-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader.

“It was very impressive,” manager John Russell said. “Everything worked for him today. He was down in the zone and used his off-speed pitches very well. It was an outstanding job.”

The previous time Morton pitched at Wrigley Field, it was a massacre. On Aug. 14, Morton allowed 10 runs in one-plus inning as the Pirates were humiliated, 17-2.

This time, Morton (5-9) set career highs by pitching nine innings and racking up seven strikeouts. He also hit two batters and walked three.

“If this was my next start (after the loss), it would’ve meant more,” Morton said. “I tried not to put too much emphasis on what happened. But it’s a big step, in the sense that I gave up 10 runs and then came back and won.”

The Pirates scored all their runs in the first inning against lefty Ted Lilly (12-9).

Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones walked. With one out, Lastings Milledge blooped a single to right, loading the bases.

Steve Pearce hit a grounder to second baseman Andres Blanco, who flipped the ball to shortstop Ryan Theriot for the force out. Milledge slid in hard — going a bit out of the base path with his legs up to take out Theriot and break up the double play. McCutchen scored.

“It was a clean slide,” Milledge said. “Just a lot of contact.”

Theriot stayed down for a minute, and Blanco barked and pointed at Milledge.

“(Blanco) probably felt we should back off or whatever,” Milledge said. “But a lot of guys got things to prove here. A lot of us are playing for spots on the team next year, so we can’t afford to back off. We’ve got to play the game.”

Jason Jaramillo’s double drove in Jones and Pearce. Brian Bixler lined the first pitch up the middle for an RBI single.

Milledge was booed in each of his next three at-bats. He struck out twice and doubled.

– Follow me on Twitter @RobBiertempfel.

Lineups for tonight’s game (second of doubleheader):

PIRATES (60-97)

  1. Andrew McCutchen cf
  2. Andy LaRoche 3b
  3. Garrett Jones 1b
  4. Ryan Doumit c
  5. Lastings Milledge lf
  6. Brandon Moss rf
  7. Delwyn Young 2b
  8. Ramon Vazquez ss
  9. Jeff Karstens (3-5, 5.45) rhp

CUBS (82-75)

  1. Sam Fuld cf
  2. Ryan Theriot ss
  3. Derrek Lee 1b
  4. Micah Hoffpauir lf
  5. Jeff Baker 3b
  6. Reed Johnson rf
  7. Micah Fontenot 2b
  8. Koyie Hill c
  9. Carlos Zambrano (9-6, 3.69) rhp

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Errors starting to pile up

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

CHICAGO — The Pirates remain on track to set a franchise record for fewest errors in a season — but they’ve been putting it to test the past couple of days.

Monday, the Pirates made two errors against the Dodgers. Yesterday, they made a season-high three blunders over the first four innings against the Cubs. For the season, the Pirates have committed 73 errors, 10 less than the team record set in 2007.

Last night, pitcher Kevin Hart dropped a toss at first base, and shortstop Luis Cruz and second baseman Delwyn Young each flubbed a grounder. Cruz started his sixth straight game in place of Ronny Cedeno, who has sore hamstrings.

“We’ve got to be strong up the middle,” manager John Russell said. “It’s unfortunate that Ronny is out right now. He was making good progress.”

Young is on the bench for this afternoon’s game, as Brian Bixler will start at second base. Young has worked hard to make the transition to second base, but still is far from smooth and relaxed at the position. Cruz, who will start the first game of today’s doubleheader, is a utilityman. More roster and/or position changes might be necessary this offseason.

“We’ll look at it,” Russell said.

— Last night, Kevin Hart (4-9) gave up six runs on six hits and four walks. He struck out five. “If we make some plays, it’s a lot different linescore for (Hart),” manager John Russell said. “It’s hard to evaluate how he did, because we (stunk) tonight (defensively).”

Hart, a onetime Cubs prospect, is 1-8 in 10 starts since being traded to the Pirates. He has lost seven straight starts.

“Usually, you have the whole offseason and spring training to work on mechanics,” Hart said. “I’m kind of working on the fly here.”

— The Indians fired manager Eric Wedge this morning. GM Neal Huntington said he will grant permission, if asked, for the Indians or other teams to interview Pirates coaches.

— When September call-ups arrive, things get especially cramped in Wrigley Field’s snug visitor’s clubhouse. The Pirates ran out of locker space, so Anthony Claggett, who was called up Tuesday, is sharing with Neil Walker.

— Hart is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in two starts against the Cubs, who traded him to the Pirates on July 30.

— Last night, Andy LaRoche had his fourth career two-double game. He’s done it in back-to-back games.

— The Pirates have been shut out 16 times, tops among major league clubs. It’s also the most times they’ve been blanked since 1985 (19 times).

— Follow me on Twitter @RobBiertempfel.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game (first of doubleheader):

PIRATES (59-97)

  1. Andrew McCutchen cf
  2. Andy LaRoche 3b
  3. Garrett Jones rf
  4. Lastings Milledge lf
  5. Steve Pearce 1b
  6. Jason Jaramillo c
  7. Brian Bixler 2b
  8. Luis Cruz ss
  9. Charlie Morton (4-9, 5.01) rhp

CUBS (82-74)

  1. Ryan Theriot ss
  2. Kosuke Fukudome cf
  3. Jeff Baker 3b
  4. Micah Hoffpauir lf
  5. Jake Fox lf
  6. Bobby Scales rf
  7. Geovany Soto c
  8. Andres Blanco 2b
  9. Ted Lilly (12-8, 3.02) lhp
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Kerrigan will return in 2010

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Pitching coach Joe Kerrigan today confirmed he will return for the 2010 season.

“It’s been a great experience here because of the young pitchers and their personalities,” Kerrigan said. “I’ve really enjoyed it as much as any year I’ve spent as a pitching coach.”

Exact terms of Kerrigan’s contract were not released, but it’s likely he got a one-year deal. Kerrigan, 55, was hired this past offseason after working as a broadcaster in 2008 in Philadelphia.

Kerrigan’s return is tied into the departure of Rich Donnelly. The Pirates chose not to renew the contract of Donnelly, who served the past two years as an instructor/advisor to the Baseball Operations department.

“As we look toward next year, we will shift the focus of (Donnelly’s) position,” GM Neal Huntington said.

The Pirates replace Donnelly with a assistant pitching coach, with the idea of him eventually succeeding Kerrigan.

“Joe will be a mentor,” Huntington said.

· A few days ago, Andy LaRoche told me he hoped to salvage enough from the final few games of the season to boost him to better things in 2010. “I was looking at this year to be that year, my first full season here,” LaRoche said. “There was some good, some bad. My numbers aren’t near where I want them to be. But there was some progress from last year. Hopefully, I can have a breakout year (in 2010).”

Maybe he’s off to an early start. Yesterday, LaRoche had a career day — 5 for 5, two homers, six RBI — in the 11-1 laugher against the Dodgers.

· The Pirates’ home attendance dropped by about 2 percent from last year. The final figure of 1,577,853 is the lowest ever at PNC Park, which opened in 2001, and is the franchise’s worst total since 1998.

· Follow me on Twitter @RobBiertempfel.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

PIRATES (59-96)

  1. Andrew McCutchen cf
  2. Andy LaRoche 3b
  3. Garrett Jones 1b
  4. Ryan Doumit c
  5. Lastings Milledge lf
  6. Brandon Moss rf
  7. Delwyn Young 2b
  8. Luis Cruz ss
  9. Kevin Hart (4-8, 5.38) rhp

CUBS (81-74)

  1. Ryan Theriot ss
  2. Kosuke Fukudome rf
  3. Derrek Lee 1b
  4. Micah Hoffpauir lf
  5. Jeff Baker 3b
  6. Mike Fontenot 2b
  7. Geovany Soto c
  8. Sam Fuld cf
  9. Ryan Dempster (10-8, 3.68) rhp
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Donnelly not renewed for 2010

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

CHICAGO — The Pirates will not renew the contract of Rich Donnelly for 2010. Donnelly served the past two years as an instructor/advisor to the Baseball Operations department. He spent most of this year as an extra coach on the major league staff. Donnelly is not with the team for this final road trip of the season.

— Right-hander Anthony Claggett was added to the roster and will be in uniform for tonight’s game against the Cubs. Claggett was claimed off waivers from the Yankees last Thursday.

— The Pirates’ home attendance dropped by about 2 percent from last year. The final figure of 1,577,853 is the lowest ever at PNC Park, which opened in 2001, and is the franchise’s worst total since 1998.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

PIRATES (59-96)

  1. Andrew McCutchen cf
  2. Andy LaRoche 3b
  3. Garrett Jones 1b
  4. Ryan Doumit c
  5. Lastings Milledge lf
  6. Brandon Moss rf
  7. Delwyn Young 2b
  8. Luis Cruz ss
  9. Kevin Hart (4-8, 5.38) rhp

CUBS (81-74)

TBA

Ryan Dempster (10-8, 3.68) rhp

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Rocky Horror Pirates Show

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Pirates’ flight tonight to Chicago should be a lot more … um, colorful than usual. An annual rite at season’s end is rookie hazing, which usually involves embarrassing costumes. Today, the players arrived in the clubhouse to find costume bags hanging in more than a dozen lockers.

Ross Ohlendorf, Jason Jaramillo and Brian Bixler will be dressed as Dr. Frank N. Furter from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” None of them were familiar with the cult movie, which was at its height of popularity about 20 years ago, so I explained the plot and audience participation involved in a midnight showing of RHPS. (And, yes, I confessed that I also had dressed as Frank N. Furter for a midnight show when I was in college. They all asked if there was photo evidence, and I told them those snaps had long ago been destroyed.)

Garrett Jones will be a female lifeguard. Evan Meek will be a Hawaiian hula dancer, complete with grass skirt and seashells for a bikini top. Kevin Hart will be a chicken.

The rookies and newcomers must change into their costumes after this afternoon’s game and wear them until reaching the team hotel in Chicago.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

DODGERS (93-63)

  1. Juan Pierre lf
  2. Orlando Hudson 2b
  3. Andre Ethier rf
  4. Matt Kemp cf
  5. James Loney 1b
  6. Mark Lorretta 3b
  7. Brad Ausmus c
  8. Juan Castro ss
  9. Hiroki Kuroda (8-6, 3.65) rhp

PIRATES (58-96)

  1. Andrew McCutchen cf
  2. Andy LaRoche 3b
  3. Garrett Jones 1b
  4. Ryan Doumit c
  5. Lastings Milledge lf
  6. Brandon Moss rf
  7. Delwyn Young 2b
  8. Luis Cruz ss
  9. Zach Duke (10-15, 4.58) lhp
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Capps needs to get away from ’09 woes

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

There are a lot of guys in the Pirates’ clubhouse who need the offseason to hurry up and get here so they can put an awful 2009 behind them. Perhaps no one needs it more than Matt Capps (3-8, 26 saves, five blown saves, 5.68 ERA), who is wrapping up his worst season since becoming the closer. “I’ll just step away, relax for a couple weeks, then let it drive you to work harder to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Capps said.

Capps plans to alter his offseason routine, going back to what he did before last wins. Last year, he pitched more than usual as a way to build up his shoulder strength. This winter, he’ll give himself some time off and start throwing again soon after Christmas.

– Reds first baseman Joey Votto had six doubles in three games last week against the Pirates. He added four more in two games against the Astros, making Votto the first major leaguer with 10 doubles in a five-game span since Pirates Hall of Famer Paul Waner in 1932.

– Follow me on Twitter @RobBiertempfel.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

DODGERS (93-62)

  1. Rafael Furcal ss
  2. Juan Pierre lf
  3. Andre Ethier rf
  4. Matt Kemp cf
  5. James Loney 1b
  6. Ronnie Belliard 5b
  7. Russell Martin c
  8. Orlando Hudson 2b
  9. Clayton Kershaw (8-8, 2.85) lhp

PIRATES (57-96)

  1. Andrew McCutchen cf
  2. Andy LaRoche 3b
  3. Garrett Jones rf
  4. Lastings Milledge lf
  5. Robinzon Diaz c
  6. Steve Pearce 1b
  7. Luis Cruz ss
  8. Brian Bixler 2b
  9. Daniel McCutchen (0-2, 5.25) rhp
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Bullpen collapses in loss

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

One night after dominating the Dodgers, the Pirates’ bullpen collapsed Saturday amid an 8-4 loss.

With the victory, the Dodgers clinched a playoff berth for the third time in four years – the first time they’ve done that since 1963, ’65 and ’66 – and for the fourth time in the past six seasons. Los Angeles’ 93-62 record is the best in the National League.

With two hits and four walks, the Dodgers scored four runs in the eighth inning. The tying and go-ahead runs scored on back-to-back, bases-loaded walks issued by Steven Jackson.

“I just didn’t get the job done,” Jacksons said. “I felt like I made some great pitches, but they laid off of them. Just a tough night.”

Denny Bautista (1-1) was charged with two runs and Phil Dumatrait allowed one.

The Dodgers belted the ball in the first inning against left-hander Paul Maholm, but came up with just one run. Rafael Furcal lined a leadoff single to left field, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Juan Pierre tripled to center and scored on Manny Ramirez’s ground-rule double.

The Dodgers added two runs in the fourth. Andy LaRoche opened the bottom of the inning with a solo homer to left.

The Pirates took a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning. With two outs, Luis Cruz bounced an 0-2 pitch up the middle for an RBI single. Andrew McCutchen put the Pirates ahead with a two-run single off George Sherrill (1-0).

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Karstens will get shot at rotation in 2010

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Jeff Karstens will make one more start this season – Wednesday – in one of the games of the day-night doubleheader against the Cubs. This afternoon, manager John Russell said Karstens might get a shot at making the rotation in 2010.

“We’ll probably build him up as a starter in spring training,” Russell said, noting that pitching coach Joe Kerrigan prefers to have at least 10 starters at work at the start of camp. Karstens would have to beat out either Charlie Morton, who slowly is gaining confidence and has electric stuff, or Kevin Hart.

· Freddy Sanchez will have surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, which brings his season to an early end. Sanchez sustained the injury before the Pirates traded him to the San Francisco Giants and re-aggravated it last week.

Sanchez told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News he expects to test the free-agent market – but does not envision returning to Pittsburgh.

“I loved it there,” Sanchez said. “But there’s not the same guys there. Everybody I came up with got traded. Once you make a decision like that, it’s hard to go back.”

· Follow me on Twitter @RobBiertempfel.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

DODGERS (92-62)

  1. Rafael Furcal ss
  2. Juan Pierre cf
  3. Manny Ramirez lf
  4. Matt Kemp rf
  5. Casey Blake 3b
  6. Ronnie Belliard 2b
  7. Mark Lorretta ss
  8. Russell Martin c
  9. Randy Wolf (11-6, 3.24) lhp

PIRATES (57-95)

  1. Andrew McCutchen cf
  2. Andy LaRoche 3b
  3. Garrett Jones rf
  4. Ryan Doumit c
  5. Lastings Milledge lf
  6. Steve Pearce 1b
  7. Delwyn Young 2b
  8. Luis Cruz ss
  9. Paul Maholm (8-9, 4.46)
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Pirates 3, Dodgers 1

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Three unearned runs and a “bullpen game” enabled the Pirates to slip past the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-1, and snap a six-game losing skid.

“It’s been a while coming,” manager John Russell said. “We played these guys tough (last week) in L.A. The guys were really into this one tonight because they didn’t want it to slip away. You’ve got to tip your hat to our bullpen tonight because they really did a great job.”

Jeff Karstens, who was converted to a reliever earlier this season, made a spot start and worked the first three innings. The righty gave up a run on three hits.

“I think I could’ve gone one more (inning), but they wanted to limit it because I’ve got to (start again) in five days,” Karstens said.

Donnie Veal (1-0) worked the next two innings and wound up with his first major-league victory. The left-hander allowed two hits and struck out three.

The back end of the bullpen – Steve Jackson, Jesse Chavez and Matt Capps – retired 12 of the final 14 Dodgers batters.

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Andrew McCutchen hit an infield single, went to third on a throwing error and scored on Garrett Jones’ sacrifice fly.

In the third, the Pirates loaded the bases on two singles and a fielding error by first baseman James Loney. Brandon Moss blooped a two-run, two-out single into shallow left field.

The Dodgers could’ve clinched a playoff berth with a victory. Instead, they’ll have to wait to see if the Giants lose late tonight.

“You never want to see another team celebrate on your field,” Karstens said. “For us to play the way we did, especially after they made some comments in L.A. about playing us – I won’t get into that – we felt we had something to prove.”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail