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Plagued by injuries, Bucs lose to Cubs

Rob Biertempfel
| Monday, May 30, 2011

CHICAGO -- The Pirates lost two players Sunday in addition to losing to the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, in a rain-delayed game at Wrigley Field.

Catcher Ryan Doumit suffered a sprained left ankle in a collision at home plate and is all but certain to go on the 15-day disabled list. Infielder Steve Pearce, who strained his right calf Saturday, was unable to play and will go on the 15-day DL.

There was no immediate indication who the Pirates will call up to replace Pearce. Catcher Dusty Brown likely will be promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis to replace Doumit.

X-rays on Doumit's ankle showed no fracture. He was wearing a protective boot and using crutches after the game. Pearce and Doumit flew back to Pittsburgh last night and are scheduled to have MRI exams.

"It's frustrating," said Pearce, who went 4 for 10 with a homer and five RBI in his past three games. "I've been battling this since spring training, and it's never gone away."

Doumit left the game in the second inning after the collision with Cubs baserunner Carlos Pena.

Pena singled to right field after Aramis Ramirez homered to pull the Cubs to within 2-1. With one out, Tony Campana singled, and Pena went to third when shortstop Ronny Cedeno's errant throw bounced away from first baseman Lyle Overbay.

Koyie Hill flew out to mid-depth right field. Garrett Jones made an accurate throw, and Doumit blocked the plate, but Pena slid hard into Doumit's ankles and arrived an instant before the ball.

Doumit stayed on the ground, clutching his left ankle.

"It was one of those freak things," said Doumit, who was replaced by Chris Snyder. "He came in hard, but I don't think I did anything different from how I usually do things. It all happened so fast."

The Pirates almost are forced to place Doumit on the DL even if the injury is not severe because the team cannot afford to be without a backup catcher, even for a couple of days.

A few minutes after Doumit hobbled off the field, Brown was scratched from Indianapolis' lineup, then headed for New York to join the Pirates. In 30 games for Indy, Brown hit .263 with six homers and 19 RBI.

Brown is not on the 40-man roster, but the Pirates already have one open spot.

Catcher Jason Jaramillo, who is on the 40-man roster, normally would be the first choice for a call-up. But Jaramillo has a sore right elbow and has not caught in a game since May 21. He played Thursday as the designated hitter.

Pearce and Brandon Wood have been sharing time at third base while Pedro Alvarez is on the DL. With Pearce out, Andy Marte or Josh Harrison could get a call-up. The Pirates likely would transfer pitcher Ross Ohlendorf from the 15-day to the 60-day DL to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Marte or Harrison.

Marte, 27, has extensive experience in the majors. But he has been used mostly as Indy's DH and is batting .191 with five homers and 17 RBI.

Harrison, 23, who has never played above Triple-A, is batting .331 with two homers, 11 RBI and an .841 OPS. He's also made nine errors in 36 games at third base. Harrison, who was acquired from the Cubs in the John Grabow trade in 2009, is not on the 40-man roster.

Despite a .333 batting average at Indy, outfielder Alex Presley is not an option to replace Pearce. Calling up Presley would leave Pedro Ciriaco as the only infielder on the bench, and managers generally want at least two backup infielders.

The Pirates took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against righty Ryan Dempster (4-4). Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker walked with two outs, and Overbay lined a two-run double to right.

The Cubs tied the game in the second inning, then took the lead in the third. Kosuke Fukudome doubled, was bunted to third and scored the go-ahead run on Starlin Castro's sacrifice fly to deep right field.

How they scored

-- Pirates first inning (Ryan Dempster pitching)

With two outs, Andrew McCutchen walked. Neil Walker walked, McCutchen to second. Lyle Overbay doubled to right field, McCutchen and Walker scored. Pirates 2, Cubs 0

-- Cubs second (Jeff Karstens pitching)

Aramis Ramirez hit a solo home run (No. 2) to left on the first pitch. Carlos Pena singled to right. With one out, Tony Campana singled to shortstop, Pena to second, Pena to third on throwing error by shortstop Ronny Cedeno. Koyie Hill hit a sacrifice fly to right, Pena scored. Pirates 2, Cubs 2

-- Cubs third

Kosuke Fukudome doubled to right. Darwin Barney sacrificed to pitcher, Fukudome to third. Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly to right, Fukudome scored. Cubs 3, Pirates 2

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