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Pirates notebook: Reliever Watson bright spot in loss

| Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, 8:48 p.m.

ST. LOUIS – After A.J. Burnett's early exit from Thursday's game, Pirates relievers Vin Mazzaro, Justin Wilson and Tony Watson covered 5 23 scoreless innings.

Watson went three innings for just the second time this season, allowing one single and striking out two.

“Fantastic job,” Hurdle said. “He faced everybody in the lineup, 43 pitches, was nailing first-pitch strikes, only one three-ball count, just really, really effective. The changeup came into play, especially for the right-handed hitters, fastball had life and finish, he works the ball to his glove side like he normally does to keep the right-handers off-balance. Just an outstanding relief performance for him. Slider played well, also.”

The left-hander suffered his second blown save of the season Sunday but has been scored on just twice in his past 26 games and five times in his past 33 appearances.

“I just ran out there and tried to pound the strike zone for another inning,” Watson said of his return to the mound for the 10th inning. “You just have to go out there and be aggressive. Obviously it's later in the game so strike one's always important, but even more important in a tie game late. Just tried to get ahead and make them chase late.”

Lambo on the board

Right fielder Andrew Lambo, who made his major league debut Tuesday, got his first hit in the big leagues with an RBI double in the fifth inning.

“It felt nice,” he said. “(Garrett Jones) got that knock to spark some things, and I got a good pitch to hit and got a good swing on it. It was a little relief to get the first one out of the way so I'm definitely happy about that.”

Lambo had some dicey reads off the wall but that's something that comes with time as any new player learns the ballparks, Hurdle said.

“Everything's going to be new for him, but I don't think there was any collateral damage for anything that really happened,” Hurdle said. “One relay throw we might have been able to manage better going to another guy, but he's going to have a lot to learn while he's up here as any new player does.”

Three times over

With his 10th triple of the season, Starling Marte not only moved into the major-league lead in triples, he also became the first Pirates player to collect at least 10 doubles, triples and home runs in a season since Jack Wilson in 2004. He is also the first outfielder to do it since Andy Van Slyke in 1992.

Molina returns from DL

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina came off the disabled list Thursday, threw Marte out trying to steal third in the first inning and was 0 for 5 at the plate.

“They're a much better team (with him),” Hurdle said. “Arguably maybe the best catcher in the big leagues. Offensively he provides a spark, he's been good against left-handed pitching, he's been good against all pitching. The numbers speak for themselves. And behind the plate he probably has no peers. I like our guy a lot. Our guy and their guy are probably the two best you'll see behind the plate in the National League. (Buster) Posey's really good, too. I guess you have to throw him in there.”

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

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