Wandy Rodriguez has been good but not great in his starts as a Pittsburgh Pirate. On Thursday, he made his first start at PNC Park and looking for some better results against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Unfortunately, the results were more of the same. He didn't pitch poorly but as has been the case with a lot of Pirates starters lately, he wasn't able to hold a lead.
Rodriguez's start was almost a carbon copy of Kevin Correia's start on Wednesday night. Just like Correia, Rodriguez put his team down early with a two run home run in the first inning. Aaron Hill hit a one out double and Jason Kubel followed with his first of two home run on the day.
Again, just like Correia's start the previous night, the offense gave Rodriguez a lead despite the first inning blunder. Gaby Sanchez, Neil Walker, and Michael McKenry started the second inning with three consecutive singles to cut the Diamondbacks lead in half. Two batters later, Jordy Mercer brought home the tying run with a sacrifice fly. Then the Pirates got a favor when Rodriguez reached on an error by his mound opponent, Joe Saunders. That allowed Starling Marte to deliver a run scoring single to give the Pirates the lead.
Rodriguez looked to settle in after the first inning and started throwing up zeros as soon as the offense gave him the lead. That was until the sixth inning. Chris Johnson got his obligatory hit against the Pirates with a one out single. Rodriguez looked to be cleaning it up by retiring the next batter with the light hitting Wil Nieves on deck. But you can't assume too much in the major leagues. Nieves hit his second home run of the season to put the Diamondbacks back on top.
The game remained a one run deficit until the seventh inning when Jared Hughes came on to relieve Rodriguez. However, for the third straight appearance, Hughes was unable to come up with a clean outing. Just like the first inning, Hill reached base with a one out base hit then Kubel followed up with his second two run home run of the game.
There were some bright spots in the game. Starling Marte collected two more hits and he really looks to be figuring out major league pitching. It's going to be interesting to see how he responds when pitchers begin to adjust to him. Sanchez had a three hit game and much like his fellow newcomer, Travis Snider, he's been a base hit machine since being acquired. However, it would be nice to see the power numbers improve. And lastly, Jeff Locke looked very impressive in 2 1-3 innings of scoreless relief in his 2012 debut. That being said, bright spots aren't what is needed. Wins are. The Pirates missed another opportunity to gain some ground on the Cincinnati Reds.