James McDonald was terrific in his first road win since last July here at Turner Field.
I wanted nothing more tonight than to write about how Mike Minor looked sharp and was able to exploit an anemic Pirate offense to get yet another series win to close out a great April. That story couldn't have been farther from what actually played out on the field. Make no mistake, Minor wasn't good by any means tonight, but I don't think that he really pitched as badly as his horrible 6.1 innings, eight hits, and seven earned runs would indicate. The Pirates exploited his mistakes and sub-par command, and also hit some good pitches to beat the Braves by a score of 9-3.
Early on, it looked good for the Braves when they got on the board first with a smoked line drive two run homer off of the bat of Freddie Freeman in the first inning. Michael Bourn had been on base in front of Martin Prado, but was called out stealing second, when he in fact looked to be safe. The Pirates wasted no time in storming back from the early 2-0 deficit, though. James McDonald settled down for the Pirates and was terrific for the rest of the evening, striking out a career high ten batters.
Josh Harrison, the Pirates' backup shortstop who got the start for the Pirates tonight, drove in Rod Barajas on a bloop past Pastornicky and Andrew McCutchen's deep, towering sac fly to Michael Bourn tied the game. The Pirates added two more in the next inning on a Pedro Alvarez deep ball to make it 4-2 Pirates. Dan Uggla doubled to start the next half inning though and came around to score following a Chipper groundout and a Hinske single to cut the lead in half.
The Pirates pulled away in by tacking on five more runs between the sixth and seventh innings, though and at that point the game was out of hand for the Braves. Yamaico Navarro jacked a dinger to left in the sixth and then the Bucs singled Minor and Chad Durbin to death for three runs in the seventh with the help of some timely sacrifices as well.
Mike Minor, after not having given up a walk in over 22 innings, walked three batters tonight, three of which came around to score. Eric Hinske was a bright spot tonight in place of the sore Jason Heyward. Eric tied a career high with four hits in the game tonight. Tyler Pastornicky extended his modest hitting streak to six games after struggling early on. This was the first time all season that the Pirates scored more than five runs in any one game.