The Pirates on Wednesday opened the final week of our recounting with a doubleheader sweep of the Chicago Cubs. In the first game, the Bucs won 4-0. Charlie Morton (5-9) went the distance after the Pirates plated four in the top of the first. Morton gave up four hits, walked three and struck out eight in his first career shutout.
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The Pirates ended their successful day with an 8-2 win over the Cubs in the nightcap. Jeff Karstens (4-5) got a spot start and came through for the win. Lastings Milledge and Ruan Dournit led the Bucs' attack on offense, and three in the seventh and one in the ninth helped them close it out. Karstens pitched five innings, giving up five hits, two earned runs, and striking out one.
The Pirates on Friday started the final series of the season and beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-1. The offense went to work early, plating two on Andy LaRoche's third-inning single and adding another with Lastings Milledge's homer. Daniel McCutchen (1-2) got his first major-league win in his final start of the 2009 season. He pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up four hits, one earned run, one homer, walking two and striking out five. Matt Capps pitched an inning for his 27th save.
On Saturday, the Pirates jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Reds came back with scoring in five of the next six innings, and when it was over, the final score was 8-4 in favor of the Reds. Zach Duke (11-16) struggled through five innings. Andy LaRoche's double in the first gave the Bucs a run, and in the sixth, Delwyn Young's three-run shot brought them closer, but not close enough. Duke pitched five innings, giving up six hits, five earned runs, one homer, walking five and striking out two.
The Pirates may have hoped for a win Sunday to give them some hope for next season, but the baseball fates were not in a giving mood as they lose 6-0 to the Reds. A short spot start from Jeff Karstens and a string of relievers on the mound yielded runs for the Reds, but despite 10 hits, no Buc touched home plate. Karstens (4-6) pitched 2 and 1/3 innings, giving up four hits, two earned runs, walking one and striking out two.
The Pirates managed to avoid losing 100 games, closing the season at 62-99 (one late-season game was canceled). This was the second-worst season record in a string of 17 consecutive losing seasons. The Bucs will pick second in the 2010 draft, and there's always next season.