Bucs have no answer for Chamberlain
Pittsburgh shut out a night after scoring 12 runs vs. New York
PITTSBURGH -- Though the Pirates pointed to missed defensive plays as the turning point in an eventual 10-0 defeat to the Yankees on Wednesday, in reality, it was going to take a near perfect showing on the mound and in the field for this one to have turned out any other way.
Credit Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain for that.
With Pittsburgh and New York again playing in front of a sold-out PNC Park -- a crowd of 38,952, to be exact -- the Yankees (42-36) took it to the Pirates in much the same way that Pittsburgh poured on the damage in a series-opening win.
One night after the Pirates (37-41) matched their season high with 19 hits in putting up 12 runs, Pittsburgh would finish with eight knocks on Wednesday in its second shutout loss of the season.
"It's tough against a team like that, and especially against a starting pitcher pitching like he was pitching," manager John Russell said.
The Pirates would never regain the momentum that shifted the Yankees' way in the first, when the Bucs were unable to turn a potential inning-ending double play.
Duke (4-5) allowed two hits and a walk to load the bases before getting Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi to hit a sharp chopper toward first. Adam LaRoche fielded and threw to Jack Wilson at second. But with Alex Rodriguez bearing down hard and taking him out with his slide, Wilson made an off-target throw to first, where Duke was covering.
The ball skipped to the railing, allowing two New York runs to score.
"My goal right there is to try to get the ball in and out of my glove and just try to give [Duke] a chance," Wilson said of the play. "It's a tough play for him. It's a tough play for the both of us, really."
Duke, however, shouldered complete responsibility afterward.
"I'll take the blame for that one because I feel like I should have caught it," Duke said. "It just went off the end of my glove, and it changed the whole outcome of the game."
Wilson would be charged with another error in the third on another difficult defensive play that would allow Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter to advance a base. Jeter would later score to put the Yankees up, 3-0.
In the meantime, the Pirates' chances were minimal against Chamberlain, who had a fastball consistently reaching the upper 90s all night. It peaked at 99 mph in the seventh, on his 98th pitch of the game.
"They've got some great hitters and a lot of young talented guys on that team," said Chamberlain afterward. "[The key] was throwing strike one and trying to pound the zone down."
The Pirates' best chance against Chamberlain, who has been building up his arm during a month-long transition from the bullpen to the rotation, would come in the second, when they strung together three hits.
Consecutive singles gave the Pirates their first two baserunners of the evening. Chamberlain came back to record two quick outs, before Wilson lined a hard single into right field.
The ball landed just in front of right fielder Bobby Abreu and bounced up to him cleanly before Ryan Doumit had reached third. Regardless, third-base coach Tony Beasley waved Doumit home.
The Pittsburgh catcher would be only about two-thirds of the way down the third-base line when catcher Jorge Posada caught Abreu's throw home. Doumit was tagged out standing up.
Afterward, Russell defended his coach's decision to wave Doumit to the plate.
"With the pitcher on deck, we tried to push it a little right there and be aggressive and try to score a run," Russell said. "Abreu has a good arm, and he made a very good throw."
Following Wilson's single, the Pirates would finish the night 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
The Bucs' only other substantial threat against Chamberlain came in the fifth. Cognizant that scoring opportunities would remain scarce, Russell opted to pinch-hit for Duke when his spot in the order came up with two on and one out.
"[Chamberlain] was throwing the ball great," Russell said. "And when we had an opportunity, we wanted to try and take advantage of it."
He chose to send up Luis Rivas as the pinch-hitter, leaving his most formidable bats -- which included Xavier Nady, who had been cleared to pinch-hit before the game -- on the bench. Rivas hit into a fielder's choice. Nyjer Morgan then struck out to end the inning.
In Duke's five innings of work, the lefty was charged with four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits and two walks. It would mark just the third time this season that Duke had not pitched into the sixth. Though to his credit, much of New York's success against him came not from hard-hit balls but from perfectly placed ones.
"The command wasn't quite where I wanted it to be," Duke said. "But I'm not at a loss of confidence because of this at all. A couple of plays go differently and it's a different ballgame."
With Duke out early, the game quickly spiraled out of hand. T.J. Beam likely sealed his ticket back to Triple-A when he allowed the Yankees to put up a four-spot in the sixth, moving New York's advantage to 8-0.
Relievers Franquelis Osoria and John Grabow would also give up a run in an inning of relief, as five Pirates pitchers combined for zero strikeouts on the night.
The Pirates expect to have a third consecutive sellout crowd on hand for Thursday's contest, the rubber game of a three-game set.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.