Bucs, Braves split; Van Benschoten sent down
Their run of consecutive innings without an error came to an end in Game 1 of their doubleheader with Atlanta, but the Pirates' winning streak remained intact.
Pitcher John Van Benschoten started the nightcap, and the Pirates' six-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt -- as did the 28-year-old right-hander's stay with the team.
Van Benschoten (0-2) was roughed up for seven runs in four-plus innings, as the Braves salvaged the finale of their four-game series, as well as a doubleheader split, with an 8-1 victory over the Pirates.
Benschoten, the Pirates' first round pick in the 2001 draft, has lost his last nine decisions, is 1-12 in his career and has not won since Sept 10, 2004.
"It was all right," Van Benschoten said. "I was successful early on, and I think I just kind of fell off in the fourth and fifth innings. But overall, I think I did all right."
After the game, Van Benschoten was returned to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he began the season 4-0 with a 1.88 ERA. In three relief appearances since being recalled from the minors on April 27, he allowed two earned runs in 3 2⁄3 innings, but after allowing six earned against the Braves, his earned run average ballooned to 9.39.
"I thought he threw the ball well, and obviously, anybody can work on the consistency of their location, but the first three innings, I thought he threw the ball outstanding," Pirates manager John Russell said. "I'd like him to be a little quicker to the plate with guys on base, but other than that, continue what he's doing."
The Pirates had won six consecutive games, including the first game of the twinbill. Freddy Sanchez hit a three-run double, and Adam LaRoche added insurance with his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot that helped the Pirates gain a 5-0 victory over the Braves.
"Obviously (the winning streak) was a combination of ... getting guys going, getting guys, myself included, who weren't producing too much in the beginning to try and get going," Sanchez said. "We got some good at-bats from LaRoche and (Jason) Bay. We're a team that has to be working on all cylinders. We're not a team that can just get a few guys going at one time."
Zach Duke (2-2) continued to pitch well, as he delivered his third consecutive quality start. In those three outings, the 25-year-old southpaw has resembled the player that was selected the organization's minor-league pitcher of the year in 2004 and started his professional career 8-2 in 2005.
He has a 2-0 record in those three games, pitched 20 1⁄3 innings, allowed 18 hits, 10 walks and struck out seven. He allowed five earned runs and posted a 2.22 ERA.
He didn't have the precision control against the Braves that was evident in his two previous starts, but he was still able to get key outs when he needed them. Atlanta was 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position against Duke, and despite allowing three runs and five walks in six innings, only one runner reached third base -- and that was on Sanchez's second-inning error.
Van Benschoten tied his career high with five strikeouts but was hit hard; Atlanta's offense knocked him around for nine hits.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the nightcap. Doug Mientkiewicz doubled and scored when Nate McLouth's grounder to first was booted by Atlanta's Greg Norton.
Braves starter Tim Hudson (6-2) gave up one unearned run and three hits in seven innings.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.