PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates are limping toward the end of a 100-plus loss season, the 18th consecutive losing campaign for the franchise. On Saturday night, two players acquired via trade on the same day seven weeks ago showed they might be part of the solution.
John Bowker went 3 for 4 with his first home run for the Pirates, James McDonald extended his scoreless streak to 20 innings before giving up two runs and Pittsburgh beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-6.Bowker came over in a trade with San Francisco on July 31, and McDonald was moved by the Dodgers for Octavio Dotel -- coincidentally traded by the Dodgers to Colorado on Saturday -- the same deadline day.Bowker had only four hits in his first 31 at-bats with the Pirates before Saturday, his third consecutive start."I've kind of been unlucky, but tonight I squared up some balls good," said Bowker, who had three homers with the Giants early this season before a demotion to Triple-A. "It's just a matter of playing consistently and just being aggressive. I feel like I've been a little late on some balls. I'm just trying to be more aggressive right now."Andrew McCutchen also homered, his 15th, and Chris Snyder went 3 for 4 with two runs for the Pirates, who have won eight of their past 12 at PNC Park but still have the majors' worst record at 50-98.Ryan Church hit a three-run homer and Kelly Johnson also connected for Arizona, which has lost 11 of 14 and assured itself of its second consecutive last-place finish in the NL West."We didn't pitch very well tonight but we had several opportunities on the other side, too," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "We battled back, but I think guys are frustrated right now."McDonald (4-5) improved to 4-1 at home with Pittsburgh and 4-4 overall since joining the Pirates.In that same time period, all the other Pittsburgh starters are a combined 5-20."When a guy goes out and you know he's going to give you a pretty quality start, it is an uplifting feeling," Pirates manager John Russell said. "We've seen it before, when he starts -- when your pitcher's on -- your play is better defensively and the game seems to flow a lot better."McDonald wasn't his sharpest. He lasted only five innings, allowing four hits and four walks with six strikeouts. But in his four victories with the Pirates, McDonald has allowed three earned runs in 26 innings."I wasn't on my 'A' game today, and [his teammates] came out and scored nine runs," McDonald said. "I just wanted to fight for those guys."That's just the competitor in me. It was preached to me coming up that any pitcher can pitch your 'A' game stuff; you've got to pitch when you don't have you're 'A' game stuff."McDonald entered with a team-high 17-inning scoreless streak that was snapped with two outs in the fourth when Diamondbacks starter Barry Enright (6-5) singled to center, scoring Church.That was Enright's only highlight. He allowed six runs on six hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings. The rookie worked at least five innings and did not allow more than two runs in any of his first 12 starts since being called up June 30 but has been tagged for 17 runs in 12 2/3 innings over his past three outings.In those three losses, Enright has allowed nine home runs after allowing only eight previously."Obviously, the home runs the last three games are unacceptable," Enright said. "It's frustrating, and it's going to have to be fixed and fixed soon."Bowker's homer came during a five-run fourth inning for the Pirates, all but one of those runs being charged to Enright. He was chased when McDonald collected his first major league hit in 28 at-bats three batters later.Johnson led off the fifth by extending his career high with his 22nd home run, second in four days. Church, an outgoing part of yet another Pirates July 31 trade, homered for the fifth time this season and second with the Diamondbacks in the seventh.
Diamondbacks ace RHP Brandon Webb threw 82 pitches during a bullpen session Saturday afternoon with no apparent immediate setbacks. Gibson said that if Webb responds well, he will throw lightly Tuesday and against hitters Wednesday. Webb, a three-time All-star and 2006 Cy Young Award winner, hasn't pitched since opening day of 2009 because of shoulder surgery. ... Despite a historically bad 15-59 road record, the Pirates are a respectable 35-39 at home.