Moss' catch saves the day for Pirates
Outfielder makes diving grab, turns double play to end game
PHILADELPHIA -- A wide smile spread over Craig Hansen's face as he pointed to the big-screen television set in Citizens Bank Park's visiting club house, which showed highlights of the Pirates' 2-0 win over the Phillies on Friday night that had ended moments before."I lost it right there," the Pirates reliever said as the TV flashed images of the game's final play. "I was just happy." Hansen was pointing to a defensive gem that should be part of Pirates highlight reels for a long time. The Phillies' Chase Utley came to the plate with two on and one out in the bottom of the 12th inning, with the Pirates clinging to the two-run lead they had built in the top of the frame. Utley, one of the game's most dangerous hitters, fouled off Hansen's first five offerings. "I was like, 'Just miss one, goodness gracious'," said Pirates left fielder Brandon Moss. "But that's not gonna happen too often." Utley connected on the next pitch, a laser shot that looked poised to bounce into the gap and tie the game. "When he first hit that, I said a couple words that you probably can't write down," Hansen said. But Moss had a good beat on the ball from the second it cracked off Utley's bat. If Moss had allowed the ball to bounce in front of him, it would have been a double, he reasoned. But Moss also knew that he had center fielder Nate McLouth backing him up, should the ball bounce by him. "The outcome is going to be the same whether you miss it or go after it or you don't," Moss said. "I just tried to be aggressive with it and stay with it." Moss stayed with it, diving to grab Utley's liner a split-second before it could reach the park's outfield grass. Moss jumped to his feet and easily doubled Shane Victorino off first base to end the game. "As soon as I caught it, I just tried to get it in as quick as I could and let them do whatever they wanted with it," Moss said. The catch was even more sweet because it nullified 11 frustrating innings for the Pirates' offense. Pittsburgh was able to muster only one hit through the first nine frames. But for all the offense's shortcomings, the Pirates was able to rely on a pitching staff that came through when needed. Paul Maholm threw seven scoreless innings Friday night. It was the 17th start in a row in which Maholm has lasted at least six innings. The Phillies first threatened Maholm in the fifth, when Utley came up with two on and two outs. The Pirates lefty struck out Utley to end the threat, the first of five consecutive strikeouts for Maholm. Maholm's 10 strikeouts Friday night are the most he has recorded in 2008. Philadelphia threatened again in the 10th. T.J. Beam walked Carlos Ruiz to lead off the inning, and Ruiz moved to third base following a bunt and a groundout. Beam intentionally walked Utley and Ryan Howard to load the bases for Pat Burrell. When the Phillies' left fielder walked into the batter's box, the 43,891 in attendance were cheering so loudly that the public address announcer could barely be heard. Beam got Burrell to pop out to first base, ending the inning. "I just basically went with the approach that nobody was on base and went right at them," Beam said. That stellar pitching kept Pittsburgh in it long enough to finally break the scoreless tie on Steve Pearce's RBI double in the top of the 12th. And it was Moss' catch that sent them home. "It ended the game," Moss said. "It was a long game."
Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.