Home Pittsburgh Sports College Football Lack of lumber spoils Lincoln’s outing

Lack of lumber spoils Lincoln’s outing

Ryan Doumit homered and Brad Lincoln threw six innings, allowing two runs, but the Astros scored twice in the top of the ninth to blow open a close game and beat the Pirates 4-1 in a rain-filled game at PNC Park.

The Houston Astros lineup that Brad Lincoln faced on Tuesday night wouldn’t look out of place in Triple-A — and neither did the crowd at PNC Park, as whipping winds and chilly rain kept all but a few poncho-wearing diehards at home. But while Lincoln again made his case to avoid the International League in 2012, the Pirates’ bats looked fit for a demotion against Brett Myers in a 4-1 loss.

“I felt good out there,” Lincoln said. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get some hits today, but we’re going to have nights like that and you can’t blame these guys for that. It’s just a night off for them.”

With an offense ranked 14th in the National League in on-base percentage and 12th in runs, the Pirates have endured plenty of off-nights this season.

“You lose the game giving up two runs,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “[Lincoln] pitched very well again tonight. Very aggressive to both sides of the plate, and he got in to some people and broke some bats. Just a good mix of pitches.”

Taking on a one-through-nine comprised mostly of semi-prospects and scrapheap finds, Lincoln (1-2) allowed a pair of runs on five hits, striking out six batters without issuing a walk. Sixty-seven of his 97 pitches (69 percent) went for strikes. That wasn’t good enough, though, with the Pirates (65-77) managing just four hits against Myers and the bullpen faltering in the ninth inning.

“[Myers] had such a big season for them last year,” Hurdle said. “He’s a better pitcher than his win-loss record. He just kept us off balance. He threw a back-door cutter to get back in counts on lefties, then he pitched them tight and spun the ball down with some breaking balls…we just couldn’t really put the barrel on him.”

“His curveball and slider were definitely working for him today,” Garrett Jones said. “I felt like we did square up some balls, but they were right at some guys.”

Myers (4-13) struck out six and walked none in 7.2 innings pitched, giving up only a solo home run to Ryan Doumit in the second inning after Neil Walker was caught stealing at second base. With two outs and Houston (48-94) up 2-1 in the eighth, pinch-hitter Josh Harrison wheeled into second base when Myers tried to field a ground ball back to the mound but threw wide of Carlos Lee at first base.

Astros manager Brad Mills called on lefty reliever Wesley Wright, who promptly walked Alex Presley on four pitches and fell behind Jones 2-0. But Jones flied out to right field on an inside fastball on the next pitch.

“You’ve got to trust your hitter sometimes,” Hurdle said of Jones taking a cut after Wright missed with six straight offerings. “If the ball is inner third and over the plate, I have no problem with him taking a whack at it.”

Jose Veras padded the Astros’ lead in the ninth inning, putting runners on the corners by walking Brian Bogusevic and allowing a double to Jimmy Paredes and then serving up a two-run single on a looping curveball to Humberto Quintero. Andrew McCutchen just missed grabbing Paredes‘ double in the left-center gap, but the ball bounced off his glove.

Mark Melancon worked around a Derrek Lee single in the bottom half, retiring McCutchen, Walker and Doumit to get the save.

Houston got both of its runs off Lincoln in the second inning. Carlos Lee led off with a single to right field, and while the 6-2, 265 pounder’s days of double-digit steal totals ended years ago, he swiped second base. Lee advanced to third on a Bogusevic single and scored on a 4-6 fielder’s choice on a Paredes ground ball. Lincoln struck out Clint Barmes swinging, but Quintero lashed an RBI to the right-center field wall.

In the top of the third inning, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve rocketed a bat-breaking fastball from Lincoln back to the pitcher’s mound. Lincoln ducked, stabbed at the ball with his glove and snagged it, getting to his feet as the spear that was formerly Altuve’s bat stuck in the infield grass.

That wasn’t Lincoln’s first encounter with a screaming line drive this year — he began the season on the DL after suffering a right forearm contusion on a comebacker from the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins in spring training.

With runners on first and third base in the seventh inning, Myers tried to drop down a bunt but bounced it back toward the mound. Chris Resop pounced, barehanded the ball and then tossed underhand to Doumit, who scooped it out of the dirt, blocked the plate and applied the tag on a sliding Paredes.

The Pirates recalled LHPs Jeff Locke, Daniel Moskos and Aaron Thompson and 3B Pedro Alvarez from Triple-A Indianapolis. Pittsburgh also purchased the contract of RHP Jared Hughes and reinstated RHP Evan Meek from the 60-day disabled list.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Hughes and Meek, the Pirates transferred LHP Paul Maholm and RHP Kevin Correia from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.

Right-hander Zack Von Rosenberg was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week today after throwing six perfect innings on September 2 at Delmarva. Von Rosenberg, 21 later this month, fell to the sixth round of the 2009 draft because of a strong commitment to LSU, but the Pirates convinced him to turn pro with a $1.2 million signing bonus. He has a 5.73 ERA in 125.2 innings pitched for the Low Class-A West Virginia Power, though his strikeout-to-walk ratio (114 to 23) is much more promising.

LHP J.A. Happ (5-15, 5.71 ERA) opposes LHP Brian Burres (1-0, 1.69 ERA). Filling in for RHP Jeff Karstens (shoulder fatigue), Burres allowed one run, struck out five and walked one in 5.1 innings in a 3-1 over the Cubs on September 2.

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