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08/31/09 6:10 PM ET
Pirates drop wild opener in Cincinnati
McCutchen delivers quality start in big league debut
By Steve Gartner / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Jesse Chavez's wild pitch with two outs in the ninth inning allowed Darnell McDonald to score from third base, sending the Pirates to a 4-3 loss to the Reds in the opener of a doubleheader on Monday. "I didn't get to it," Pittsburgh catcher Jason Jaramillo said of the game's final pitch. Chavez allowed McDonald to reach on a single to start the inning. He then gave up a single to Craig Tatum and got Paul Janish to fly out to deep left. McDonald advanced to third on the flyout. With a 2-0 count to Drew Stubbs, Chavez's slider in the dirt went past Jaramillo, sending McDonald racing to the plate. "I saw it bounce away a little bit," McDonald said. "The ninth inning at home, you have to be aggressive in that situation. It didn't get away that far. But it's a tough play for the catcher and pitcher to get you out there. I was going to take my chances." The Pirates tied the game in the seventh on a triple from Ronny Cedeno and an RBI single by Jaramillo. Daniel McCutchen, who previously expected to play for Team USA in Europe in the upcoming World Cup, got the call Sunday that he was coming to Cincinnati. The right-hander's Major League debut, however, came in front of fewer than 2,000 fans. "I was a little antsy. I tried to block that crowd out," McCutchen joked. Two pitches into his start, he gave those Great American Ball Park fans a reason to cheer, yielding a home run to Stubbs. "I kind of shook that one off," McCutchen said. "The first inning, I had the jitters, but after that I pitched like I had been pitching." McCutchen helped himself in the second inning during his first big league at-bat. After Reds starter Kip Wells walked Lastings Milledge, hit Cedeno with a pitch and gave up an RBI single to Jaramillo, McCutchen singled to score Cedeno. McCutchen said he only had two bunt hits while playing with Triple-A Indianapolis. "That's my first real hit since 2001," he said. "I told myself to relax my shoulders, facing an 0-2 [count], and next thing I knew I was sitting on first. I don't know what happened in between." The Reds fought back with two runs in the third to make it a 3-2 game. But following that inning, McCutchen gave up just one hit over his final three frames. He lasted six innings and gave up three runs on five hits with five strikeouts. Pirates manager John Russell said McCutchen will be in the starting rotation for the rest of the season. "For his first outing in the Major Leagues, I thought he did very well," Russell said. "Really, I enjoyed watching him pitch. It was fun." But it wasn't much fun watching a potential win slip away on a pitch that got away.
Steve Gartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.