Duke did it again Tuesday and he was better than ever against
the team he's dominated four times in as many starts.
This time, he pitched a five-hitter for his first major league
shutout and complete game in the Pittsburgh Pirates' 8-0 victory
over the Cubs.
"It just seems like every time I face them I'm on top of my
game," Duke said.
That's putting it mildly.
Duke (2-2) is now 2-0 this season against the Cubs. He also was
2-0 against Chicago a year ago as a rookie, beating Greg Maddux
twice at Wrigley Field. In 32 career innings against the Cubs, he's
given up just two earned runs (0.56 ERA). And in 25 innings at
Wrigley Field, he's yielded one earned run (0.36).
"So far it's been pretty good to me. It's such a fun place to
play," Duke said of the Cubs' cozy neighborhood park. "It's just
a good place as a baseball player to come."
Duke now has a 10-4 career record, four of those wins against
the Cubs, who have trouble with his assortment of lefty pitches.
"I don't know how he does against the rest of the league, but
he's done well against us," said Todd Walker, who had two hits for
"He throws that little cutter on the corner against lefties.
... He's a Greg Maddux type. He locates well and changes speed."
And he doesn't give away bases. Duke, just 23 and in his 20th
major league start, walked one, struck out two and was backed by a
pair of double plays.
"He throws a lot of strikes," Chicago's Juan Pierre said.
"And the pitches we did get to hit, we didn't do anything with
Jeromy Burnitz homered against his former team, and Freddy
Sanchez had three hits and three RBI after being moved to the
third spot in the batting order as the Pirates earned a split in
the two-game series at Wrigley Field.
Burnitz batted .258 with 24 homers and 87 RBI last season -- his
only one with the Cubs -- but the team decided not to pick up his $7
million option and instead signed Jacque Jones to play right field.
Burnitz gave the Pirates a 4-0 lead when he hit a two-run homer
in the third off Chicago rookie Angel Guzman (0-1), who struggled
with his control in his second major league start. Guzman went 5
2-3 innings, allowing six hits and six runs -- four earned.
"Any time we get an outburst, it's a relief for us," Burnitz
said. "We've had a rough go of it this first month."
Guzman had a rookie's nightmare in the first inning: two walks,
a hit batsman, a stolen base and a wild pitch that helped the
Pirates take a 2-0 lead -- just the fourth time all season
Pittsburgh has scored in the opening inning.
Guzman plunked leadoff hitter Chris Duffy, who stole second and
scored on a double by Sanchez, who entered the game with five RBI.
Jason Bay walked and after a fielder's choice put runners at first
and third, Guzman threw a wild pitch to allow Sanchez to score.
The Pirates made it 6-0 with four in the sixth. Ronny Paulino
and Jose Castillo singled and after a sacrifice, the first run
scored when Chicago reliever Roberto Novoa fumbled Duffy's slow
roller for an error. Jack Wilson then followed with an RBI single
and stole second before Sanchez delivered a two-run single,
prompting loud booing.
A couple of runs would have been enough for Duke.
"The thing that is so impressive about this young man is his
know-how and the moxie and the command and the poise for a kid that
just turned 23 years of age," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said.
The Pirates broke a seven-game road losing streak.
Pittsburgh is 2-13 overall away from PNC Park. ... Pittsburgh sent
infielder Mike Edwards to Triple-A Indianapolis after the game and
called up catcher Ryan Doumit. Doumit was on a rehab assignment at
Indianapolis with a left hamstring strain and will join the team in
New York. ... The Cubs continue to struggle offensively after
losing Derek Lee with two broken bones in his wrist. Lee went on
the disabled list on April 21. The Cubs have batted .214 since that
date. Manager Dusty Baker said general manager Jim Hendry is
looking for ways to add more offense. The Cubs are 3-7 against
lefty starters this season and batting .192 as a team against
southpaws. ... Pirates INF Joe Randa had an MRI and it revealed a
bone bruise on his right foot after he fouled a ball off it April
18. He will also join the team in New York on Wednesday.