Dinged-up Doumit hanging in for Bucs
Pittsburgh (54-86) at Houston (70-72), 2:05 p.m. ET
HOUSTON -- The life of a catcher can be brutal at times.
On Friday night against the Astros at Minute Maid Park, Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit took a baseball in the kneecap, got hit in the collarbone by another foul tip and took another hit in the forearm.
"It's what we sign up for," said Doumit. "You can't complain. You got to keep that whirlpool full of ice for after the game."
Prior to Saturday's game against the Astros, Doumit, who was a bit sore but had no serious issues, was in the starting lineup against Astros starter Brian Moehler. After missing more than two months with a right wrist injury, Doumit isn't about to miss playing time with something as minor as aches and pains in his knee, shoulder and arm.
In football terms, Doumit played Saturday with a slight stinger. As for his wrist, Doumit said, though it isn't 100 percent, it's functioning.
"It's not where it needs to be, but a lot of rest in the offseason will be what the doctor ordered," said Doumit, who went 0-for-3 while batting cleanup on Saturday.
Due to a fracture of a scaphoid bone in his right wrist suffered on April 19, Doumit was on the disabled list from April 21-July 9.
Physical ailments aside, Doumit made a good play on a rundown involving the Astros' Hunter Pence on Friday. Doumit applied the tag on Pence while he was trying to get back to first base after getting picked off first by pitcher Charlie Morton. The rare 1-3-6-2 play was the second out of Houston's fourth inning.
"[Doumit's] an aggressive player," said Pirates manager John Russell. "He's continuing to learn the position.
"He's made a lot of progress. Unfortunately, [with] the injury this year, he lost a lot of time. He's focusing on playing the position well. That's his job. And on a rundown, you've got to get to first base."
Doumit downplayed the rundown.
"It's one of those things you work on in Spring Training, whenever there's a rundown at any bag," Doumit said. "It's the catcher's job to run down there and get involved. It's one of those things where instincts take over.
"It happened fast. I saw that [Pence] was clearly picked off, and I ran down there and it worked out for us."
A fine defensive catcher, Doumit's hitting has improved drastically in September.
The left-handed-hitting Doumit had two hits on Friday, making him 11-for-31 (.355) in his past nine games, bumping his season batting average to .234 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs. In his first seven games in September, Doumit was 10-for-17 for a .417 batting average.
"He's getting better [at the plate]," said Russell. "He's starting to get more patient. He was pressing so hard, trying to do so much in a short period of time. He got away from his approach. He was chasing a lot of pitches out of the [strike] zone.
"And now, he's starting to lay off those and getting better pitches to hit. Do that, and you're going to have more success."Pitching matchup
PIT: LHP Paul Maholm (7-8, 4.72 ERA)
Maholm wasn't at his sharpest in his last start, but he battled well. His sinker has been more consistent over his past four outings than at times earlier in the season, which continues to be the biggest key for the left-hander. While Maholm still has an outside chance at reaching the 10-win mark before the end of the season, his primary objective over these next few weeks is just to find the consistency that will allow him to end the season on a high note. Maholm is 7-4 with a 4.44 ERA in 12 career starts against the Astros. HOU: RHP Felipe Paulino (2-8, 6.34 ERA)
Paulino is coming off a pair of quality starts, though he lost both games because the Astros didn't score a run while he was in the game. He held the Cubs to four hits and two runs on a two-run homer to Derrek Lee in six innings on Sept. 2 at Wrigley Field and gave up four hits and two runs on a pair of solo homers in six innings on Tuesday against Atlanta. In his past two starts, he's struck out 13 in 12 innings, but is riding a career-long four-game losing streak. In his only appearance against the Pirates this year, he pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief on June 7 and allowed three hits, one run and struck out four. Tidbits
Through three innings on Saturday, the only baserunner for either team was Pittsburgh second baseman Ramon Vazquez, who walked on Moehler's 3-2 pitch with one out in the top of the third inning. The Pirates blanked the Astros on Saturday until the fourth inning, when Carlos Lee hit a two-run home run. Entering Saturday, the Pirates had been scored on in the first inning in their past five games and 10 of their past 11 games. ... The Pirates lead the Majors with 38 outfield assists, the most by the team since it recorded 39 in 2002. ... Prior to Saturday's game, there was a birthday celebration for Dan Hart, the Pirates' manager of media services, who turned 36. Hart is in his 10th season with the Pirates organization. Tickets
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Monday: Pirates (Daniel McCutchen, 0-1, 4.85) at Dodgers (Jon Garland, 9-11, 4.23), 10:10 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Pirates (Zach Duke, 10-14, 4.02) at Dodgers (TBD), 10:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: Pirates (Kevin Hart, 4-6, 4.86) at Dodgers (Hiroki Kuroda, 6-6, 4..00), 3:10 p.m. ET
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.