Hitting is contagious. It’s what Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle has preached all season. In the third inning, the Pirates brought to life Hurdle’s motto as they they scored three runs as six straight players reached base. Despite a late scare by the bullpen, the Pirates held on to win their second straight game over the Nationals by the score of 4-2.
When Neil Walker hit his first home run over the weekend, Hurdle said that it isn’t necessarily the hitter that hits the home runs, but it’s the pitcher that gives them up and he hopes this will jump start Walker. Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen hit his first home run of the season last night after hitting 23 last season and for McCutchen, the home run last night jump started him as he hit his second in as many nights to provide an extra insurance run for the Pirates in the bottom of the eighth.
“It was good to get it (home run) and give Joel (Hanrahan) some insurance,” McCutchen said. ”It was good to get that one extra run so he could breathe a little bit.”
In what was a bizarre game overall, the quirkiness started in the second inning. Following a five-pitch first inning, Pirates starter Erik Bedard was forced to leave the game during the middle of his at bat with Adam LaRoche. Bedard, who has an extensive history with injuries, made Pirates fans everywhere squirm as they arguably their best pitcher of the season walk off the mound. It was reported that Bedard was suffering from back spasms and isn’t thought to be a major injury.
“I had problems with this just one time before in 2008,” Bedard said. ”For back spasms you just do nothing for a couple of days and see if it comes back. It gradually goes away and you’re fine.”
Following the injury, Brad Lincoln and Jared Hughes came on to pitch five innings of one-run ball, before turning the game over to the trio of Juan Cruz, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan.
“They did a great job,” Bedard said of the bullpen. ”They kept the team in the game and made great pitches. It’s all because of them that we won the game and are hear talking about the win.”
“It was one of those things that it was good because I didn’t have time to think about getting in the game,” Lincoln said about entering the game in the second inning. ”You go in there and give them what you got and that’s what I did tonight.”
If Bedard is forced to miss any time, one would think Rudy Owens would get the call from Triple-A to join the Pirates and Brad Lincoln would replace Bedard in the rotation. Jeff Karstens is eligible to come off the DL, but just started his long-toss session today at the park and still needs a rehab start.
The Pirates and Nationals will wrap up their three-game series tomorrow as Washington will send their ace Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.66 ERA) to the mound to face Kevin Correia (1-2, 3.38 ERA of the Pirates. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
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