Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Day to Pay for Overdue Ills

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Day to Pay for Overdue Ills

Article excerpt

CINCINNATI -- Seventy-two times in this rollicking baseball season, the Pirates have taken a lead into the seventh inning, and only 11 times have they lost both the lead and the game, so that's the kind of metronomic bullpen efficiency they brought Saturday to the intersection of a 6-4 lead and the seventh-inning stretch.

An hour later, the Cincinnati Reds had beaten them by four runs at what you might consider a pretty inopportune moment in the 11th hour of National League Central Division politics.

But fret not.

Inside a visiting clubhouse that required an extended cooling off period -- a 10th-inning grand slam by Reds' futility infielder Ramon Santiago requires a respectful period of reflection, I suppose -- no one was talking like anything had been lost, never mind that a shot at the division championship hung by a tattered thread from the Jolly Roger.

"It was wonderfully crazy," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle after nearly four theatrical hours that included 13 pitchers, 17 hits, 16 runs, 22 strikeouts, and a resounding slam from a 35-year- old sub who had managed to spread 28 career homers over parts of 13 big-league seasons with four teams. "It's great baseball to be a part of. It just shows you that teams are always going to compete."

And there was this from standout reliever Jared Hughes, who needed all of seven pitches that drove his ERA down to 1.96 to dismiss the Reds in the sixth:

"We've got a shot of winning the World Series this year, a really good one. In my mind, we're the favorites. So I would say we're in a good place as a team right now. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves. We have a lot of talent and we know it.

"We're ready to go out there [today] and win and keep it going throughout October."

Well ...

That's not what I was looking for precisely, but it's useful to note, I think, that Saturday marked only the fifth Pirates loss in their past 22 games, and that the entire production was a kind of Ode to the Overdue.

Take John (You Got To Know When To) Holdzkom, for example, a burgeoning cult figure on what's been the best team in baseball in September. …

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