Bucs’ offense erupts in win over Cleveland
June 25, 2009


PITTSBURGH - John Russell was bemoaning the Pirates' inability to score in the early innings in the hours leading up to Wednesday night's game.

The Pirates manager got what he wanted a few hours later as the Pirates scored nine runs in the first four innings then held off a big ninth-inning rally for a 10-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians on a clammy night at PNC Park.

"I felt we swung the bats well right from the first inning," Russell said. "The guys had a lot of life to them right from the start and that was great. You can't always wait for the late innings when the crowd gets excited and the adrenaline starts to kick in. It always helps to score runs early."

The Pirates scored three runs in the second inning and six in the fourth to take a 9-1 lead as they ended their five-game losing streak. The Indians lost for the seventh time in their last eight games.

"We hit a lot of balls hard in the early innings," Pirates rookie catcher Jason Jaramillo said. "It just seemed like everybody in the lineup was swinging the bat."

Adam LaRoche led the Pirates' 14-hit assault by going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Jaramillo also homered as he had two hits and two RBIs while Freddy Sanchez and Nyjer Morgan had two hits each and Andrew McCutchen had a two-run single.

That was more than enough support for Zach Duke (8-5) to win for the fifth time in his last seven decisions. He allowed one run and five hits in six innings with two walks and four strikeouts.

"I thought Zach pitched really well," Russell said. "It was a tough night because we had a couple of long innings and he had to sit in the dugout for long periods of time. He fought through that, though, and stayed sharp."

The Pirates survived a nightmarish ninth inning by rookie reliever Steven Jackson, who served up a two-run homer to Kelly Shoppach and a three-run shot to Grady Sizemore with two outs.

After the Indians cut the Pirates' lead from 10-1 to 10-6, Sean Burnett was called on to retire Shin-Soo Choo on a grounder to shortstop with a runner on first base for the final out.

"It took us a little longer than we wanted in the ninth but we got the win and that's ultimately all that counts," Jaramillo said.

It is perhaps time for Duke to enter into the discussion about making the National League squad for the All-Star Game, which will be held July 14 at St. Louis. Only three NL pitchers have more wins than Duke as Los Angeles' Chad Billingsley, San Francisco's Matt Cain and Colorado's Jason Marquis are tied for the league lead with nine.

"It would be an honor if it happened but I'm really not looking any further ahead than my next start," Duke said.

Duke helped stake himself to a 3-0 lead in the second by singling in the first run of the three-run inning. McCutchen followed with his two-run single to right, running the rookie center fielder's hitting streak to 12 games.

"I just try to swing the bat and hope I sneak a ball through the infield," said Duke, who leads the pitching staff with three RBIs this season. "It's always good to help yourself."

The Indians got their first run in the fourth on Shoppach's RBI infield single.

The Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom half of the inning, chasing Carl Pavano (6-6) and increasing their lead to 9-1. All of the runs became unearned when shortstop Luis Valbuena made a high throw on Sanchez's two-out grounder to keep the inning alive.

LaRoche followed with a two-run single and Brandon Moss hit an RBI double. Jensen Lewis relieved and served up a three-run home run to Jaramillo, his second, on a line drive into the right-field stands.

Pavano was charged with eight runs, three earned, and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings.


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