video thumbnail

ATL@CIN: Jurrjens fans nine over six frames

By the end of Tuesday night's controversial 19-inning Braves victory, the only unused players on either team were Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan and each team's four other starting pitchers.

And so it goes without saying that Paul Maholm and Jair Jurrjens will be looking to pitch deep into the game Wednesday night at Turner Field.

"We may come out and it'll be a 1-0 game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "[It's] one of those things. I think our bullpen is in pretty good shape. I think both teams are going to have to push their starters a little bit [Wednesday]."

Coming off the longest game -- 6 hours, 39 minutes -- in each franchise's history, there may be some roster moves made, particularly for bullpen depth, before Jurrjens' first pitch. Pittsburgh reliever Daniel McCutchen -- who was scheduled to have Tuesday night off -- pitched a career-high 5 1/3 innings in relief and took the loss. Atlanta's Scott Proctor, who earned the win Tuesday when his grounder to third resulted in the game-winning RBI and controversial call at the plate, pitched three innings out of the 'pen for the first time since August 2007.

Pittsburgh will almost certainly make a move before Wednesday's game. McCutchen and Jason Grilli will not be available, and Tony Watson will probably not be called upon, either. And after catching all 19 innings on Tuesday, Bucs catcher Mike McKenry will rest on Wednesday.

"These are the challenges that come with a long season," Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle said. "I couldn't be prouder of our guys. The disappointing thing is to have the game finish the way it did -- on a wrong call."

Both teams will have to recover quickly, because neither one has an off-day in the schedule until August. The Braves' next day off comes Aug. 4, the Pirates' a week later, Aug. 11.

"We've already let it all hang out," Hurdle said. "We let it all hang out when we got in here. We'll move on. We'll definitely move on. The season is not going to stop."

Of the 100 games the Pirates have played this season, 51 have been decided by two runs or fewer. The Pirates are 28-23 in those games, going 15-11 in games decided by one run and 13-12 in two-run decisions.

"When you're playing under a microscope, I do think it can galvanize you across the board," Hurdle said. "They understand, even more, the staples of the game -- getting a runner over, the importance of first-pitch strikes, the importance of getting the first hitter of the inning out. When you don't do it, you let that pendulum swing back the opportunistic way of the other team. They really get that now.

"They are measuring up to the things that the game demands for you to win without a lot of bling. We don't have the homers. We don't have somebody with 65-70 RBIs, a .340 batting average. We don't have all that. What we've got is a pitching staff that has been nails off the mound, giving the ball to our bullpen which has been solid, air-tight at times. Our defense has been solid. It's made them all understand -- maybe for some of them, for the first time -- how cool a game this can be to play."

For the Braves, it would be cool for Jurrjens to revert to his pre-All-Star break form. Since then, he's given up 10 earned runs in 11 innings over the course of two starts, both no-decisions.

What happened?

"Not being aggressive enough," Jurrjens said. "I'm falling behind. When you fall behind, you're going to get hit. That's the whole thing right there."

Jurrjens added that the last thing he wants to do is claim that the break got him out of his routine.

"If I say that, it's going to be an excuse," Jurrjens said. "I've had a chance to throw a bullpen to work on stuff to be ready for my start. In the bullpen, I'm trying to find my rhythm and command my fastball."

Pirates: Maholm on the mark
Maholm is coming off a loss to the Cardinals in his last start, but he's still won five of his last eight decisions, posting a 2.92 ERA (23 earned runs in 71 innings pitched) in that time. He also has allowed three earned runs or less in 16 of his first 21 starts, although he's 0-2 in his last four road starts since winning for the only time on May 28 in a three-hit shutout at Chicago. Maholm is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five career starts against the Braves.

• Hanrahan is one save shy of becoming the sixth pitcher in team history to earn 30 or more saves in a season (since saves became an official statistic in 1969). The other five pitchers are Mike Williams (46 in 2002), Jose Mesa (43 in '04), Jim Gott (34 in 1988), Kent Tekulve (31 in '78 and '79) and Dave Giusti (30 in '71).

Braves: O'Flaherty on a roll
Lefty reliever Eric O'Flaherty leads Major League relievers with a 0.94 ERA and has 19 holds. His scoreless seventh inning Tuesday marked his 23rd consecutive appearance (since June 7) without allowing an earned run. He has 10 holds and 16 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings in that span.

• Outfielder Martin Prado has hit safely in 28 of his last 38 games (since May 6), but went 0-for-9 on Tuesday. He's tied for second on the team with 25 multi-hit games despite missing 31 games because of injuries.

Worth noting

• Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen is one of five players in the Majors this season to knock in at least 60 runs and steal at least 15 bases.

• Braves catcher Brian McCann will be placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained oblique suffered in Tuesday night's game. Comments