Wandy Rodriguez made his first start in 11 days and looked sharp, while the Pirates bats denied Atlanta Braves starter Tim Hudson his 200th career victory winning 6-0.
If anyone was worried about Rodriguez’s injury and if he would have an innings limit or pitch count, that was put to rest with a quick start. In fact, Rodriguez had an eight pitch second inning and it took the fourth inning for the Braves to register a hit.
“11 days out and that’s as sharp as you want to see the guy,” Manager Clint Hurdle said after the game.
The Pirates started their scoring in the second inning. Neil Walker hit a ball to left field that was misplayed by Justin Upton leading to a triple, his first since 2011. He would have no problem scoring when Pedro Alvarez hit a no doubter over the Clemente Wall seats.
“That pitch was a breaking pitch,” Alvarez told Root Sports following the game. “I was just trying to hit something, preferably in the air so I could get Walker in and I was able to get a good piece on it.”
Russell Martin then hit a double off the top of the Clemente Wall and Jose Tabata drove him in with a double off the wall.
The fifth inning also was a big one for the Pirates, as Garrett Jones surprised the Braves with a single close to the left field foul line that scored both Tabata and Travis Snider.
That removed Hudson from the game and put Anthony Vavaro into the game. Vavaro had a tough time with his pitches and although he struck out John McDonald, there were two wild pitches. The second wild pitch was strike three, however Andrew McCutchen scored and McDonald was safe on first to make the lead 6-0.
Rodriguez pitched seven innings facing the minimum, allowing the one hit and throwing 82 pitches in what broadcaster Greg Brown called his ‘greatest start as a Pirate’. Rodriguez used all of his pitches effectively and had the Braves shaking their heads. This included B.J. Upton who saw strike three and got ejected by home plate umpire Sam Holbrook.
Mark Melancon had another smooth eighth inning throwing just seven pitched while Vin Mazzaro finished the game.
Tomorrow night former Pirate Paul Maholm will toe the rubber (3-0 0.00) when he faces James McDonald (1-2 5.27). Game time is scheduled for 7:05. The first 25,000 fans will receive an Andrew McCutchen awards bobble head. Maholm has thrown 20 1/3 scoreless innings to start the season.