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Karsten performs well as Bucs slip past Phillies in 10th

Rob Biertempfel
| Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pirates right-hander Jeff Karstens always seems to have a cool, unflappable demeanor when he pitches. But manager Clint Hurdle knows better.

"He's like the proverbial duck on a pond," Hurdle said, grinning. "Above the water, he's calm and collected. But, sometimes, underneath the water, he's paddling."

Saturday, Karstens pitched out of trouble a couple of times against the Philadelphia Phillies. He got a no-decsion, but his hard work still played a key role in the Pirates' 2-1 victory.

The Pirates won it in the 10th inning. Rod Barajas doubled off the top of the center field wall — he missed a home run by about three inches — and was replaced by pinch-runner Michael McKenry. Clint Barmes bunted McKenry to third.

Josh Harrison was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Alex Presley reached on an infield single, scoring McKenry.

Karstens went six innings and yielded a run on five hits. He walked one and struck out two.

Juan Cruz, who tossed a scoreless 10th, got the win. Joe Blanton (0-1), working out of the bullpen until the Phillies need a fifth starter, took the loss.

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Karstens fell behind the first two batters, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco, and gave up a single to each. Jimmy Rollins advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt.

Hunter Pence fouled off three pitches, then hit a dribbler up the middle. Second baseman Neil Walker lunged for the ball, but had no play as Victorino scored.

It was a tough break, but it didn't break Karstens. He retired the next nine batters he faced, then escaped a first-and-third, two-out jam in the fourth inning. In the fifth, Victorino lined a one-out single, but was erased on a double play.

In the meantime, the Pirates did practically nothing against Phillies starter Cliff Lee. Through the first five innings, they had just one hit and did not get a runner to second base.

With one out in the sixth, pinch-hitter Yamaico Navarro walked. Jose Tabata singled. With runners on the corners and two outs, Lee's wild pitch bounced away from catcher Carlos Ruiz and Navarro scored.

It was Lee's first wild pitch since Aug. 11, 2010, when he pitched for the Texas Rangers.

It took 15 innings and 50 batters for the Pirates to score their first run of the season.

The game drew 38,885, giving the Pirates sellouts in their first two home games of the season for the first time in franchise history. It seemed about a quarter of the fans wore red and chanted, "Let's go, Phillies" throughout the game.

Making his major league debut, Matt Hague started at first base and batted fifth. He went 0 for 3.

"I was excited and a little anxious," Hague said. "But, most of all, I was just glad to be in the lineup."

With a left-hander on the mound, third baseman Pedro Alvarez was replaced in the starting lineup.

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