Pirates notebook: Team, McDonald pleased with outing

| Thursday, April 4, 2013, 7:42 p.m.

James McDonald's first start of 2013 was better than his first start of 2012 despite one thing.

McDonald fell victim to the Pirates' offensive shortcomings and took the loss despite allowing one run on two hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out four.

“I was happy with the way I competed,” McDonald said. “Every pitch meant something to me, and I just went out there and went straight after guys and did OK.”

McDonald kick-started his first half of 2012 with a two-run, six-hit effort through six innings against the Phillies. He did not get the decision but went on to compile a 9-3 record and a 2.37 ERA in his first 17 starts. He finished the season 3-5 with a 7.52 ERA in his last 12.

“I'm happy he was able to go out and do what I believe he's able to do and what we've seen him do,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Big picture, you want your team to win. If you can't win, for James to go throw seven and (allow) one run, we couldn't have hoped for much more than that. He was very, very good.”

Teammate Andrew McCutchen said McDonald was amazing.

“I think it's just more him knowing himself, not worrying about what other people think or what they say,” McCutchen said. “He knows himself the best. He went out and pitched a gem. You hate for guys to go seven innings and get the loss.”

First one out of the way

Clint Barmes didn't get his first hit until the fifth game of last season. Those opening games set up an awful first two months for Barmes, and the Pirates' shortstop said he'd be lying if he said he wasn't thinking about that after going 0 for 2 on Opening Day and 0 for 2 in his first two at-bats Wednesday.

But Barmes hit a leadoff double in the seventh inning and later scored. He doubled again Thursday in the third inning.

“At this point, compared to where I was at last year, it's completely different,” Barmes said. “That's a good thing.”

Steal away

McCutchen stole two bases Thursday and has four on the year. He stole 20 in 157 games last year.

“I'm feeling pretty good,” he said. “Just not thinking about so many things but getting on the base paths and just go.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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