Meek escapes a jam


Reliever Evan Meek used his fastball to get out of a jam in the seventh inning of tonight’s 3-2 win against the Cubs. With one out, Meek hit Marlon Byrd with a pitch, threw a wild pitch and walked Aramis Ramirez.

After falling behind 3-0, Meek worked his way back with three fastballs, including a 96 mph heater on the outer edge which Soriano couldn’t catch up to.

“I didn’t have my best stuff today,” Meek said. “My command wasn’t very good at all. I just took a little extra time between pitches, got my mind right, and said, ‘OK, make a good pitch, but don’t hold back just to throw a strike. Stay aggressive.’ When you fall behind 3-0, the last thing you want to do is try to guide a pitch in there.”

Although he didn’t have much command of his breaking ball, Meek threw one with a 1-1 count against the next hitter, Xavier Nady. “I still wanted to show it, so he wouldn’t get comfortable with the fastball,” Meek said. Nady took the curveball, which was well outside the zone, for ball two.

Meek came back with another curve, this one on the outside corner, which Nady fouled off. When a 2-2 count, Meek went back to the fastball — chest-high, 95 mph for a swinging strike three.

“He missed one before that was down,” Meek said. “I tried to elevate it a little bit, and it worked out.”

After striking out Nady, Meek pumped his first as he walked off the mound. It was his ninth straight scoreless outing and lowered his batting average against to .190.

— Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster went 2 for 2 (both singles), plus a sacrifice bunt. Dempster isn’t known as a slugger; he came into tonight’s game with a .096 career batting average. But against the Pirates this season, every pitcher seems to swing like Ted Williams.

Opposing pitchers are hitting .288 (17 for 59) with one homer and six RBI. That’s a better batting average than five of the position players who were in the Pirates’ starting lineup tonight.

The Pirates are trying to sign a pair of 17-year-old Dominican players — right-hander Isaac Sanchez and outfielder Miguel DeAza — but deals have not yet been finalized. In February, the Pirates signed Dominican outfielder Wily Garcia for $280,000.