The Pittsburgh Pirates took two of three from the Atlanta Braves, knocking the Braves out of first place in the NL East.
The Pirates are 47-92, 5 1/2 games behind (or ahead) of the Baltimore Orioles (53-87) for the first pick in the 2011 draft.
The prize could be Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, who hit .394/.530/.801 with 26 homers in 63 games as a sophomore.
Pittsburgh is on pace for 107 losses, which would be the most since Arizona lost 111 in 2004. The Pirates lost 112 games in 1952 when the schedule called for only 154 games.
The Good: LHP Brian Burres yielded just a run and five hits in six innings in Monday’s 3-1 victory. … Pittsburgh rarely flashes the leather, but RHP James McDonald tossed seven scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 5-0 victory, working out of a bases loaded jam on this play to start the inning and this double play started by Alvarez to end the frame. McDonald also got this great throw by Tabata.
The Bad: RHP Daniel McCutchen, who had been pitching well out of the pen, was knocked for four runs and five hits in 1 1/3 innings on Wednesday. … After beating Tommy Hansen and Tim Hudson, the Bucs had their chances against Derek Lowe on Wednesday, leaving the bases loaded in the first and stranding two in the fifth. Lowe is 10-0 in 10 starts against Pirates.
The Ugly: One night after putting together all three facets of the game, LHP Zach Duke didn’t record an out in the second inning of Wednesday’s 9-3 loss. He was charged with four runs on six hits. It’s only the fourth start in the last two years that Duke didn’t last five innings. Among pitchers with 150 starts since 2005, Duke has the fewest wins (44)
Fantasy Focus: 2B Neil Walker has hit in 15 straight games, the longest for a Pirates rookie since Rennie Stennett hit in 18 straight in 1971.
What’s Next: Could Pittsburgh continue to play the role of spoiler. The Pirates travel to Cincinnati to play the first-place Reds this weekend. Pittsburgh’s road record is 14-53, easily the worst this decade in the major leagues.
About the Author
Written by Jim Keller
I'm a life-long, suffering Pirates fan who is old enough to remember the Lumber Company, the "We are Family" World Series winners and Roberto Clemente, Bob Prince and "Green Weenies." You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @PiratesProperty.