Before I get into any of the positives on the Pirates end, I want to address a huge blunder by Bruce Bochy and the Giants.
Your best relief pitcher is usually your closer because he pitches in the most important spots during the ball game, but that doesn't mean your closer can only come in during a game that is tied or in which your team is leading.
The Giants made a huge mistake by not bringing in Brian Wilson to pitch the top of the ninth down by one. Instead, they let some guy named Medders allow an extra two runs (could have been more) that basically lost the game. If the Giants had brought in Wilson to face the bottom third of our lineup, the Giants win this one on Valez's HR. It's that simple and for some reason, managers who are paid to be the ones making the most important decisions during a ball game just don't get this. I would be livid if I was a Giants fan.
On a somewhat related note, nothing proves the save stat to be totally irrelevant than Dotel in the bottom of the ninth. He didn't have his best stuff, and the Giants got lucky on that first hit (pop-up double down the line) but Dotel struck no one out, gave up a HR and two runs, and still got a save, which is a statistic that earns people money (see: Capps, Matt). What was more impressive to me was Evan Meek's two innings of work, and Branden Donnelly's one inning of work with a one-run lead.
All right, enough of my negativity. Despite the Pirates bats completely falling asleep in the middle of the game (they were put down in order for 14 straight hitters, spanning 4 innings in which they saw just 36 pitches; it was pathetic), the started well and finished well, which was enough for 6 runs which should usually win you a game. Paul Maholm wasn't good either (exactly when the Bucs needed seven innings from their starter, Maholm gave them five), he was all over the zone and couldn't get in a ground-ball groove, although he did get some key Ks and outs at important moments. As I said, the bullpen was what won the Bucs the game.
Lastly, what a bomb from Andy LaRoche. I'm a big fan of Andy's (he's got a solid approach at the plate and plays an above average third base) and I want to see him succeed (will make the Bay trade easier to swallow), but I've always said he seemed like the perfect guy for PEDs. Most of the balls he drives (especially to center) never reach the warning track and end up as hard outs; if he could just put an extra thirty feet into those hits...
But that home run he hit tonight was an absolute bomb, and surprisingly, it wasn't a great pitch to drive. Yes, it was a slider over the heart of the plate, but those are the type of pitches you pull over the third baseman's head for a double, not the type you send 420 feet to CF. I was pleasantly surprised and doubly impressed. Let's see if he can add to that as the season progresses.
Too tired to add anything else, but let's enjoy our return to .500 baseball for the next few hours before we may dip back into the abyss.